Murder Charge: 'Owan-Enoh allegedly supplied arms to killer thugs, must appear in court'

Sen. John John Owan-Enoh

The Director of Public Prosecution (DPP), Ministry of Justice in Cross River State, Mr. Gregory Okem, Esq has insisted that the Governorship candidate of  the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state, Sen. John Owan-Enoh must appear in court for his murder trial to commence.

Okem who is the state's lead counsel also disclosed that although Owan-Enoh was not at the scenes of the crimes but all those arrested have been linked to him and investigation has revealed that he allegedly provided the killer thugs with weapons.

Recall that the Cross River State government in a suit number HC/48C/2019, dragged Owan-Enoh to court on three count charge bothering on murder and attempted murder.

At the beginning of the case, the former Senator was accused of delibrately avoiding being served court summons but the state counsel applied for motion ex-parte for a substituted means of service which was granted on the 12ths of July, 2019.

The accused was consequently served through publications in National Dailies and was billed to appear in court yesterday (Wednesday) for the trial to commence. His absence as well as a motion filled by his Lawyers challenging some aspects of the charges however stalled the trial.

Speaking with Journalists shortly after court sitting, Okem said  that if not for the motion filled by his Lawyer which he will respond to at the resumed sitting today (Thursday), his refusal to appear in court would have prompted him to apply for bench warrant for him to be arrested and brought to court.

He maintained that “The matter was set for hearing but the accuse was not in court and the reason why he was not in court was because his Counsel, Mba Ukweni, Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) filed motion challenging several aspects of the charge.

“One of it was that the suspect ought to have been tried in Etung and not in Calabar. But our position is very simple, the High Court of Cross River State is one Court and so he can be charged and tried anywhere.

“When there is an application of that nature and the accuse person is not in Court, the court cannot do anything. It has to adjourn and
that was what happened and of course for us, it was like an ambushed.

“They knew the matter was coming up today but they filed their motion yesterday (Tuesday) and served me at about 4pm and I got to see the application just today (Wednesday).

“If we had had good time to look at it, we would have responded and of course by today, we would have taken that application but what we intend to do is to bring application to this court so that the matter can go to the vacation court for trial to commenced"

He further added that “If you look at our laws, he could say he wasn’t there when this thing happened but Section 7 of the criminal code had it that anybody that do anything, aiding and abating murder, can be charged for the commission of the offence.

“Because the boys who were arrested in connection with the matter, all of them linked to him and investigations reports disclosed that he provided some of the arms and ammunitions, that were used in the alleged murder; that is the reason he is being charged”

According to the DPP, the matter was not political, “It is not political, anybody who is connected in murder can be taken to court, nobody is above the law, it’s a criminal matter, you cannot do anything behind the back of the accuse person.

“The only thing we would have done, if that application was not filed, would have been applying for a bench warrant so that we can arrest him and produce him in court to face the charge but unfortunately this application came in” he stated.

On the matter coming up at the vacation court as said by the Presiding Judge who is the Chief Judge of the State, Justice Michael Edem, the
DPP said, “Vacation court is for matter of this nature but our difficulty is that in vacation court two parties must consent” he stated.

Consequenly, the counsel for the respondent (Owan-Enoh), Mba Ekpezu Ukweni, SAN said, “What happened in court today is that we filed objections challenging the competence of the
information filed and the trial of the matter in the High Court One Calabar.

“The Director of Public Prosecution said he needed the accuse person in court and we said not necessary for him to be court when he has
challenge the competence of the court to hear the matter in the first place and that has to be moved first so he has requested for a day to
enable him respond to our objection and the learned Chief Judge has fix the matter for tomorrow (Today).

“I am not afraid of vacation court, certainly not afraid of the vacation court, vacation court is a special court, there are certain matters that need to go to vacation court, very very urgent matters.

“It is not every matter, not every sundry matters that are taken to vacation court that are already pending in regular court to vacation court, vacation court attend to very urgent matters of extreme urgency, it is not for matters that are already being heard in regular court to be taken to the vacation court.

“The parties need to consent to the matter being heard before the vacation court if it is already pending in a regular court”.
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