From Uche Nnorom Makurdi
A chief Magistrate Court presided over by Justice Vincent Kor today granted bail to a Journalist Sunday Egena Ode.
Mr. Ode who is an editor with Peoples Daily newspaper appeared in court on allegation of cybercrime offence against the Benue State Governor Samuel Ortom and State government
He is also being accused of falsehood, defamation of character, inciting disturbance and insulting language contrary to the cybercrime Law 2014.
It should be noted that Ode had written a petition, accusing the State Governor of not doing enough in quelling the crisis between the Bonta community in Konshisha and Ukpute people of Oju which led to the death and destruction of several houses in Ukpute.
When the matter came up, counsel to the defendant Barr. Okpale Ojikpa observed an ambiguity in the First Information Report, FIR on whether the offences are against Governor Ortom or the State government, adding that the said offences were said to be seen on the Nigeria Bar Association, NBA Whatsapp page even when the defendant is not a lawyer.
Moving his oral application for bail, Barr. Okpale argued that the offences against his client are bailable, noting that he(Ode) has in all ramifications displayed a sense of integrity by presenting himself in court without compulsion.
According to Okpale, ”my client has shown evidence of a citizen who would not run away from trial or interfer with Police investigation. He has met all the conditions for bail as enshrined in section 166 of Criminal Penal Code, CPC.
Police Investigator Inspector Anthony Idoko told the court that the defendant was arrested on 22nd April, 2021 and released three days after, maintaining that he was never re-arrested by the Police as he came on his own to the court from his house.
Police Prosecutor Hyacinth Gbako failed in his argument to oppose the application for bail as he incoherently muttered that the offences against the defendant was published on the internet.
Asked by the Presiding Magistrate if the defendant was re-arrested on different charges, Gbako could not explain. Hence, he incurred the wrath of Chief Magistrate who said furiously “Persecutor you are misleading the court”.
In his ruling, Chief Magaitrate Vincent Kor noted that the defendant was initially granted administrative bail because he displayed a sense of patriotic.
“I find merit in application for bail by counsel to the defendant and grant him same in the sum of 500,000 naira and a surety in like sum who should deposit a document of landed property with the registrar of the Court, two (2) passports and photocopy of National Identity card.
As at the time of filing this report, the defendant was still finding it difficult to meet the bail conditions.
The case was adjourned to August 31st, 2021 for further mention.