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PDP, LP In Verbal War Over Imprisonment Of Enugu State Lawmaker


(AFRICAN EXAMINER) – The Enugu state chapter of the Labour Party LP, has Condemned in strong terms the recent conviction of Hon. Bright Ngene it’s member at the state House of Assembly representing Enugu South Urban constituency, by a Magistrate court,

The party claimed that the action was politically motivated, a claim the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) has dismissed.   

Recall that the National Working Committee (NWC) of the LP had alleged that Ngene was convicted due to a pending rerun election between him and the PDP candidate.

The Party urged the National Judicial Council, NJC, and the National Human Rights Commission, NHRC, to extend its search on how  Ngene, was ‘wrongly’ jailed by an impudent Magistrate, E.D Onwu, on June 28 2024.

Ngene of LP, whose rerun elections for Enugu South Urban Constituency has remained an albatross on the People’s PDP, was sentenced to seven years imprisonment by the magistrate despite the NJC intervention on the matter, with the magistrate refusing to entertain addresses by Ngene’s legal counsels.

Chairman and Publicity Secretary of the LP in Enugu state, Casmir Agbo and Onuora Odo, respectively, in a statement the party issued in Enugu contend that Ngene’s detention in Enugu Correctional Center was politically motivated, biassed and conspiratorial to take away the mandate that the people of Enugu South Urban Constituency gave to the Labour Party and Bright Ngene as the candidate.

The party noted that the resurrection of a rested community matter against Bright Ngene after winning the House of Assembly election was a decoy and height of intolerance to have the PDP manipulate its way into an undeserved seat in the state House of Assembly.

 “It’s on record that the rerun election could not take place on two occasions because the masses came out to reject any form of manipulation and imposition. It’s on the strength of the stiff resistance being mounted by the Labour Party Candidate that the PDP-led government strategized and came up with arm-twisting tactics geared towards stopping Bright at all costs. 

“In total execution of their grand scheme, the PDP-led government went and resurrected a land related matter involving  Bright and two others pending before the Court since 2017. 

“In a scenario that looked more dramatic than court proceedings, the presiding Magistrate, His Worship Onwu apparently acting under instructions hurriedly and haphazardly heard the case on the 28th day of June, 2024 without adopting of Addresses by parties, and sent Hon. Bright to prison for seven years without option of fine on trumped-up charge.

“This detention is a clear attempt to silence and stop him from participating in the rerun election and calculated to muzzle and stifle opposition in the State. We believe this detention is a gross violation of human rights and fundamental freedoms, moreso when there is a pending petition before the National Judicial Council (NJC) in connection with the matter.  

“The Presiding Magistrate displayed manifest bias in arriving at that decision. It’s pure political intimidation and nothing more. We are calling on the NJC and the human rights Community to rise to the occasion and lend their voice against this gross injustice occasioned on Hon. Bright Ngene.

“Labour Party stands in solidarity with him and all those who face persecution for their political beliefs and activism. We urge the international community to join us in condemning this detention and advocating for his freedom. When you see something, say something and do something.

“You would recall that Hon. Bright Ngene defeated his closest rival, Sam. Ngene during the elections. However, the PDP  Candidate went to the Tribunal praying the Honourable Tribunal to declare that the election was inconclusive. 

“Consequently, the Tribunal ordered for rerun in eight pooling units but, unfortunately, the said rerun didn’t take place on two occasions as the PDP Candidate was not prepared for the elections but was only plotting with INEC to rig the election. 

However, in i’s reaction to the LP’s allegation Wednesday in Enugu  the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, blamed the opposition  Party, for fielding as its candidate in the 2023 general election, Mr. Bright Ngene, who was last week convicted for conspiracy and stealing, saying the party should bow their heads in shame.

Addressing newsmen at the PDP state secretariat, its  State Working Committee led by Hon. Augustine Nnamani, fired back at the LP for “falsely alleging political witch hunt by the Enugu State Government in the trial and sentencing of Bright Ngene.”

The PDP explained that the Ngene’s investigation, trial, and conviction were at the instance of his own people for the alleged  theft of N15.7m belonging to their community and wondered how it could have related to the 2023 House of Assembly contest.

“For the avoidance of doubt, and as the case file number (MEN/ 225C/2017) clearly indicates, this is a matter of conspiracy and stealing filed in the Enugu South Magisterial District of the Enugu State Magistrate Court against the 1st Defendant, Bright Ngene, and two others way back in 2017.

A statement presented to newsmen during the media briefing was signed by Casmir Uchenna Agbo State Chairman and Titus Onuora Odo, Publicity Secretary.

“Let it also be known that the Akwuke/Akwuke Uwani Communities lodged the complaint with the police. 

“After a painstaking investigation, the Defendants, including Bright Ngene, were indicted and consequently arraigned before His Worship A. O. Eze on a two-count charge of conspiracy and stealing on 21st day August, 2017. The Defendants, however, pleaded not guilty to both counts and were granted bail.

“The Prosecution opened their case on the next adjourned date, being 11th September, 2017, calling witnesses before closing their case.

“Rather than marshal their defence, the Defendants initially made a no case submission. However, the court dismissed it and ordered them to commence their defence.

“Next, Bright Ngene wrote to the Chief Judge of Enugu State seeking the transfer of the matter from His Worship A. O. Eze to another court to start trial de novo (anew), a request the Chief Judge refused for lacking in merit.

“Ngene did not relent, as the matter was ultimately reassigned to His Worship E. D. Onwu, and the matter started de novo.  

“The Prosecution called their witnesses, who testified afresh and were thoroughly cross-examined by the Defence. Ngene (1st Defendant) equally testified in person for himself and also called witnesses, who testified on his behalf before closing his case,” the PDP stated..

The party, therefore, underscored the fact that not only was the LP House of Assembly candidate charged at the instance of his people many years predating the 2023 election, but also that the delays in the trial “were mostly at the instance of Bight Ngene (1st Defendant), who kept applying to the Chief Judge for reassignment of the case and filing actions in the superior courts to stall the trial.”

“How could the same people he has now been confirmed by the court to have stolen from have given him their votes in the first place?” the PDP added.

The PDP advised LP and Ngene to exercise their right of appeal or “carry their self-laden cross instead of this attempt to run down the judiciary and blame others for their own self-inflicted woes.”

 

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