A magistrate Court 7 sitting in Umuahia North Local Government Area of Abia State presided over by His Lordship, U.O Egwu on Monday ordered that 75year old Mazi Donatus Nwadike and 8 other members of Jewish worshipers should be remanded at the Afara prison custody located off busy Aba road, Umuahia, the state capital.
Reports have it that the Jewish worshipers were arrested by the police at the weekend when they had gone to the country home of one of their leaders and leader of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Mazi Nnamdi Kanu to hold their Shabbat Celebration and to pray for Kanu, whom they said has been missing after security agencies stormed his father’s residence in October last year.
In a Charge no U/435c/2018, the arrested persons, Nkama Agha (30years), Ifeanyichukwu Anukwua (33yrs), Elder Ifeanyi Nwafor (53yrs), Linus Njoku Ede (44yrs), Mazi Donatus Nwadike (75yrs), Chukwuemeka Adaenyi (32yrs), Uche Ikechukwu (45yrs), Akelibo Okurishi (25yrs) and Nwaeke Nehemiah Oguguo (27yrs) were brought before the court by the police under terrorism act of Abia State law 2009.
“That the above persons and others at large on May 13, at Afaraukwu in Umuahia North were arrested while they were carrying out their act of terrorism and with the intent to frighten one ASP Justus Ogar of Nigeria Police, Abia State Command and his team and thereby committed an offence punishable under section 12(a) of the Abia State Prohibition of terrorism, kidnapping, hostage taking, use of Offensive weapons or Explosives and other threatening Behaviour Law 2009,” the charge read.
Magistrate Egwu, after listening to the arguments of the lead counsel Chief Godwin I. Chionye and Alloy Ejimakor, representing accused persons 6 -9 and the prosecuting counsel, O. O. Uche, said that it was wrong for police to arraign the accused persons before a court that he (prosecutor) knows doesn’t have the jurisdiction to try the matter.
He therefore ordered that the matter be transferred to the High Court where the accused have the right to apply for their bail and adjourned the matter for Wednesday May 30 for compliance.
The court room was filled with over 100 members of Jewish worshipers who came to show solidarity with their members standing trail.
Speaking to journalists at the end of the sitting Chionye, counsel to the Jewish worshippers said “They were charged of a terrorist act which the Magistrate has no power to entertain even though I told him he has power to grant them bail but he ruled otherwise. We are going to the High court to get them out on bail; it’s a bailable offence.
“They did not commit any offence at all. I am from Afaraukwu where they were arrested, I passed through where they were on Sunday before their arrest, they were not carrying guns or any dangerous weapons but their Bibles and Bible does not constitute dangerous weapon.
“I even passed them when they were worshiping, they were not terrorizing anybody. How can they be terrorists and they came with their children same of who were arrested by the police?
“The police action in arresting the worshipers was not fair, the Fulani herdsmen that have been terrorizing Nigerians have been allowed to move freely, only for innocent people to be tagged terrorists and are being in turn terrorized.”
Ejimakor, representing accused persons 6 -9 narrating how he rushed down to Umuahia on Sunday after being told of the arrest of the Jewish family said “I went to the police station on Sunday, hoping to get them released on bail by the police or to have no charged preferred against because they did nothing wrong.
“It is a clear case of religious persecution which is against the African Charter on Human Rights. It’s against UN Charter and it’s against the laws of Federation of Nigeria. I think it is happening because of three reasons, one because they are Igbo mostly. Two, because they are Jews, Jews are being persecuted in this country; that is what we are going to see as the new high of persecution in Nigeria perhaps because the Fulani dominated Federal government is muzzling the Igbo.
“A sensitive Federal Government would not permit it police forces to be pushing religious adherents around like this and making them feels second class citizens. Nigerian constitution guarantees freedom of movement, does it mean that anybody that goes to Nnamdi Kanu’s house should be arrested?
“The place is a place of pilgrimage of sorts; Kanu’s father is a royal father. Citizens of Nigeria can visit the palace any time.
“So, if anybody is trying them for some kind of minor offence because of the location where they choose to perform their Jewish prayers and rites, that is wrong.”
Some other members of the community who spoke to our reporter stated that they the persecution by the police and other security agencies instead of demoralizing them, would strengthen them. This is as they even appeal to the international community to call Nigerian government and the its security apparatus to order and sanction them if need be.