A loyalist of the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi and the embattled former Chairman of Asari-Toru Local government in Rivers state, Ojukaye Flag-Amachree has been denied bail by a High court in Port Harcourt.
The trial judge, Justice Margaret Opara gave the ruling following a bail application filed by the legal representatives of Flag-Amachree.
In her ruling, Justice Opara said the evidence of ill-health of the accused person is not an exceptional reason to warrant the bail of the accused in a capital offence.
She said the three medical reports tendered before the court “do not show an exceptional case in his illness where he should be granted bail. In any capital offence, an accused person can only be granted bail on exceptional medical grounds”.
The Judge however expressly ordered that the private doctor of Flag-Amachree be allowed access into the prisons to care for his client.
Justice Opara fixed 21st and 22nd of June for the commencement of trial, just as she ordered that the matter be given accelerated hearing.
Speaking with newsmen, David Izaga, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria who is the counsel to Ojukaye Flag-Amachree, expressed surprise at the ruling of the court.
“We are obviously not happy with the position of the court. We have made our case that my client has a terminal ailment. We all know the situation of the prisons in this country. How would he get a proper care in such a place. I will speak with my client and we will know the next line of action,” Izaga said.
On his part, Tubotamuno Dick, who is counsel to the late Smart Soberekon, said he is impressed with the ruling of the court but added that there is no need to give the matter an accelerated hearing.
Dick said he is ready to follow-up the matter to the end: “we were all in court. Does he (Ojukaye) look like he is sick. We know all these things. We appreciate the court for seeing through our argument. But I tell you, there is absolutely no need for the accelerated hearing. The matter should be treated like other criminal matters. There is no problem. We are ready to go all hug in this matter.”
Earlier, the Rivers state government had filed an application for stay of execution by the High court.
Godwin Obla, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria representing the state government notified the court about a motion already before the Appeal Court in Port Harcourt over the matter.
Obla said the court could not continue with the matter until the issue raised in their application has been addressed by the Appeal court.
Meanwhile, Justice Opara set aside the application saying that she will take the ruling because the matter had already been argued and the application of stay cannot stop the business of the day.
The court witnessed a rowdy session immediately after the bail was refused.
Supporters of both the Rivers state government and Ojukaye caused a scene that made everyone including the Judge scamper for safety.
The court later reconvened after the reinforcement of security by the police.
The former Chairman of Asari-Toru Local government, Ojukaye Flag-Amachree is facing a two count charge of conspiracy and murder in the 2015 Rivers election.