From CHRISTIANA EKPA, Lokoja
Nemesis caught up with seven members of two rival cults this Monday when they were remanded at the Federal Prisons, Koton-Karfe, by a Lokoja Chief Magistrate Court. They are being arraigned on accusation of the murder of three persons in a reprisal cult attack in the state.
The Chief Magistrate, Levi Animoku, gave the order on the hearing of the suit for the murder of Omale Usman, Musa Muhammed, a.k.a Tipper, and Segun Folorunsho, a.k.a. Abi during a rival clash between the two cult groups.
They were charged with criminal conspiracy, membership of unlawful society, attempted culpable homicide and culpable homicide contrary to sections 97(1), 97(b), 229 and 221 of the Penal Code Law.
The Police First Information Report (FIR) read by the Prosecuting Police Office, Tuesday Ganagana, said the accused persons who were members of the Arrow Baga and Aye confraternity, committed the offenses at about 11:30 pm on March 22.
According to him, group criminally conspired and armed themselves with deadly weapons, including knives, axes and cutlasses and violently stabbed to death Omale Usman, a member of the Arrow Baga in a cult rival fight.
They were also accused to have inflicted machete cuts on one Lekan, alias Okoli, and Maikudi Isah who were immediately rushed to Federal Medical Centre, Lokoja, and admitted for treatment.
The FIR also revealed that members of the offended cult group, led by Nasara Abubakar, conveyed themselves in a Mercedes Benz car with registration number AV 994 MKD, in addition to other vehicles, and launched a reprisal attack on members of the other group.
The attack, according to the FIR, led to a free-for-all fight between the two cult groups which resulted in the death of Musa Muhammed and Segun Folorunsho.
The FIR further revealed that the Aye confraternity leader, Nasara Abubakar, and the members took away the corpses of the slain rival cult members in the Mercedes Benz car and dumped them in the River Niger.
Ganagana told the court that investigation into the matter was on-going and asked for adjournment but objected to granting of bail, saying that the offense of culpable homicide under Section 341 of CPC was not bailable.
B.T. Alagani and Mu’azu Abass, leading three other lawyers for the accused, applied for bail, invoking Section 36(5) of the Constitution which infers presumption of innocence of an accused until proved otherwise.
According to them, no matter how the FIR is couched, it cannot take the place of evidence and, therefore, urged the court to use its discretion to grant the accused persons bail.
Animoku, in his ruling, said: “The offense of culpable homicide is the highest crime known to our laws; it carries death penalty. In as much as the court has discretion to admit persons alleged of crimes to bail, it must be done with caution.”
“However, one thing stands out in the FIR that three persons lost their lives while some people are still receiving treatment. The presumption of innocence is not absolute. So, I decline to delve into granting bail to the accused persons. The accused persons shall be remanded at Federal Prisons, Koton-Karfe,” he declared and adjourned the case to May 3 for mention.