An Asaba Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday discharged and acquitted Okechukwu Okeke, one of the seven persons allegedly involved in December 2017 robbery attack on a bullion van in Asaba. The magistrate, Ferdinand Dike, also granted bail to Ufomadu Athanasius, Ogene Godwin, Ekwugo Obi, John-Dawn Anichukwu, Okeke Chukwudi and Nwadialor Ifeyinwa.
Mr Dike granted them bail in the sum of N5 million with one surety each who must reside within the jurisdiction of the court and must not be below level 14
He adjourned the case till July 10 for further hearing
Mr Okeke, former Head of Processing, UBA, Onitsha Main branch, and six other staff of the bank were allegedly involved in the robbery in which $800,000 was carted away by the robbers.
The News Agency of Nigeria recalls that at the first appearance of the defendants on January 10, they all pleaded not guilty to the 3-count charge of conspiracy, negligence and stealing.
The prosecutor, A O. Orohrho, of the state Directorate of Public Prosecution, DPP, through an application informed the court of the prosecution’s intention to transfer the case to the High Court.
Mr Orohrho also informed the court of the decision of the prosecution to drop charges against one of the defendants.
He prayed the court for more time to enable the prosecution to make adjustment in the charges and to remand the defendants in custody pending the approval of notice.
But counsel to the defendants, Fabian Okeke, opposed the prayer of the state counsel, saying that the continuous detention of the defendants amounted to abuse of the judicial process.
He said that the prosecution had failed to serve the defendants notice or date of trial and described it as a ploy to permanently keep them in custody.
In his ruling, Mr Dike said the documents before the court had shown that the 4th defendant had no case to answer in the three-count charges and discharged and acquitted him.
Mr Okeke told the News Agency of Nigeria that he welcomed the ruling of the court because he believed that God would always vindicate him.
“I am grateful to God almighty for the ruling of the court. I have always believed that I will be vindicated. I have been in custody since December 8, 2017.
“It has been a terrible experience for me and my family. I never expected that I will be roped into this case because I was only giving a helping hand.
“I lost my job in the process and so many things happened to me in the process, but in all, I give God the glory,” he said.