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CLO Demands Probe into Enugu Magistrate’s Death in Prison

Ignatius Okpara, Enugu

The Civil Liberties Organization, (CLO) has demanded for an enquiry into sudden death of an Enugu Magistrate, Mrs. Ifeoma Nneji two days after being remanded in prison custody.

The human rights organization, in a petition made available to African Examiner called on the Chief Justice of Nigeria and the National Judicial Council (NJC), to promptly carry out investigations into the mysterious death. The petition revealed that the late magistrate and her husband Mr. Nneji were remanded last week by an Enugu Magistrate court presided over by Mr. A.C. Mbah, for alleged conspiracy, false information and attempted murder.

CLO South East Zonal Director, Barrister Olu Omotayo, who signed the petition stated that “the death of the Magistrate brings to fore the injustice that has pervaded the administration of criminal justice in the Magistrates’ court in Enugu State and has encouraged the police in the state to charge anybody for any of the so called serious offences like attempted murder, rape, robbery and offences relating to child abuse or human trafficking, even with no evidence to substantiate the charge”.

The police in Enugu are very much aware that most of the Magistrates in the state are ignorant of the law, hence the need to protect the fundamental rights of citizens who are arraigned in their courts” the petition disclosed. The petition added that “for the citizens of this great country to enjoy the fundamental rights guaranteed by the Nigerian Constitution, the erring judicial officers should be called to order.

The petition stated further, “Magistrates in Enugu don’t ask questions, once a suspect appears before them for any serious offence; they waste no time in remanding the victim. The petition revealed that the late Magistrate and her husband’s case was precipitated on attempted murder arising from altercation between them and a tenant living in their premises. “Our findings revealed that the female tenant in question, who is the complainant in the attempted murder charge, was hale and hearty and still walking freely in Enugu city.

CLO insisted ” the Magistrate Mbah, who remanded late Nneji did not act in consonance with the provisions of the law, which provides that the complainant should always be present in court and if absent for medical reasons, there must be medical report to that effect from a recognized government hospital, stating the state of health of the complainant”.

“CLO argued that Magistrate Mba was wrong to have pressed charge of conspiracy against Late Nneji and her husband because it was an elementary principle of law that a husband and wife of English marriage cannot be charged for conspiracy”. In the main time, the civil organization called for immediate release of Mr. Nneji who is still being held in Prison and demanded for immediate sack of Mbah.


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