THE Magistrate’s Court sitting in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, on Wednesday remanded 13 suspects arrested in connection with the killing of four students of the University of Port Harcourt.
The accused persons were allegedly part of a mob that tortured the four undergraduates to death in Omuokiri Aluu in Ikwerre Local Government Area of Rivers State.
The suspects, who were escorted by security agents, were driven into the court premises about 9.45am in a Toyota Hiace bus with number plate FG 120 F50.
The suspects were in handcuffs and chains as they appeared in court on five counts of conspiracy and murder.
Presiding Magistrate, Emmanuel Woke, however, said the court did not have the jurisdiction to hear the matter.
Woke immediately announced the transfer of the case to the Department of Public Prosecution for legal advice and subsequent arraignment in a High Court.
The magistrate also said the suspects should seek bail from the high court.
A Chief Superintendent of Police, Mr. Henry Njoku, stood as counsel for the prosecution while Mr. A.A. Finebone was the counsel for the first accused and village head of Aluu, Alhaji Hassan Walewa.
Mr. Austine Ojekudo and others from the Nigeria Bar Association and the Human Rights Commission were in court as concerned parties.
The charges against the accused as contained in Charge Sheet Number PMC/2009C/2012, are “That you conspired among yourselves to commit felony to wit: murder and thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 324 of the criminal code Cap 37 laws of Rivers State of Nigeria 1999.”
The suspects and others at large were accused of lynching Ugonna Obuzor, Toku Lloyd, Chiadika Biringa, and Tekenah Erikena, thereby committing an offence punishable under Section 319 of the criminal code Cap 37 volume III laws of Rivers State of Nigeria 1999.
The court, however, adjourned the case till December 20, 2012.
Meanwhile, the Vice-Chancellor of UNIPORT, Prof. Joseph Ajienka, has explained why he removed Dr. Andrew Efemini, as Head of Department of Philosophy.
Ajienka, who spoke with newsmen in Port Harcourt on Wednesday, said Efemini made an inflammatory statement that incited students to embark on a violent protest in Aluu.
The students had carried out a protest against the killing of their colleagues by suspected members of Aluu.
The Vice-Chancellor noted that the former HOD’s action on the day of the protest inflamed the already tensed situation, which the university was battling at all costs to contain.
Ajienka stated that such situation would not be tolerated by a responsible administration management, even as he insisted that the decision to remove Efemini was in order.
The Vice-Chancellor added, “Efemini’s ill-advised action on that day inflamed an already tensed situation that we were battling on all fronts to contain. Under the untenable situation in which Dr. Efemini’s action put me, it was better to protect him and myself.”