The Enugu North Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday remanded a priest and a couple in prison for allegedly stealing and destroying property worth N29 million.
The accused persons are from Orji River Local Government Area in Enugu State.
They are Solomon Obiukwu, Fredrick Eze and Juliana Eze, who were alleged to have stolen and destroyed property belonging to one Chinyere Gbugu.
When the charges were read to the accused persons, they pleaded not guilty to the eight-count charge brought against them.
The Police Prosecutor, Mr Peter Eze, told the court that the matter was reported at the Oji River Police Station on Feb. 2.
“The accused conspired and set five buildings worth N25 million as well as four hectares of pineapple farm worth N4 million which belonged to Gbugu on fire.
“The offences are punishable under Sections 495(a) and 353(L) of the Criminal Code, Cap 30 Vol. II, Law of Enugu State of Nigeria, 2004,’’ he said.
The prosecutor pleaded with the court not to grant the accused bail.
The Counsel to the three accused persons, Mr C. Ogbuewu, however, prayed the court to re-frame the charges as the eight count charges brought against the accused were simple offences and not capital offences.
He pleaded with the court to grant the accused bail on lenient terms as the first accused was hypertensive.
In her ruling, the Magistrate, Mrs O. Nneji said that the court had no jurisdiction over the matter.
“The court’s hands are tied in granting the accused bail as this matter is beyond this court,” she said.
She said that the four witnesses mentioned should appear in court anytime the case was called up, warning that failing to appear in court would attract a fine of N200, 000 each.
The magistrate said the accused should seek bail anytime the matter would be called up at the appropriate court.
Nneji transferred the case to the state’s attorney-general and remanded the accused persons in prison.