On Wednesday, a Chief Magistrate’s Court in Port Harcourt remanded the member representing Etche/Omuma Federal Constituency of Rivers State in the House of Representatives, Ephraim Nwuzi, in prison custody on charges of treasonable felony, conspiracy, motion of communal crisis, and inciting violence. This development is coming two days before the general election in which Nwuzi is seeking re-election.
According to the state police spokesperson, Grace Iringe-Koko, Nwuzi was arrested over an inciting video where he allegedly directed his supporters to attack some persons, including officials of INEC, during the elections. The police claimed that he was caught on camera instructing his thugs to shoot and kill two or three electoral officers during the forthcoming general election in the constituency.
When the matter was mentioned in court, Nwuzi’s counsel, Emenike Ebete, made an oral bail application, but the application was opposed by the prosecution and the investigating police officers in charge of the matter, who requested that the lawmaker be remanded to pave the way for a proper investigation and arraignment.
After listening to arguments from both sides, Chief Magistrate O Amadi-Nna ordered that Nwuzi be remanded in prison custody based on the weighty allegations against him. The court held that the offenses were grave and that Nwuzi should be remanded in prison custody until March 3, 2023, pending when a charge will be preferred against him by the state.
Speaking to reporters after the ruling, Nwuzi’s counsel, Ebete, said that the charges preferred against his client were insufficient to warrant a remand and promised to institute an immediate appeal. He argued that the allegations against Nwuzi were not sufficient for him to be remanded.
The APC candidate for the February 25, 2023 election is known to be a member of the faction of the party led by the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi. His remand in prison has caused a stir in political circles, with some accusing the ruling party of using state institutions to clamp down on opposition voices.
The development has also raised concerns about the potential for electoral violence during the general election. The authorities have assured the public that adequate security measures have been put in place to ensure a peaceful election. However, many residents of Rivers State remain apprehensive about the possibility of violence, given the history of electoral violence in the state.
It remains to be seen how this development will affect the outcome of the election in the Etche/Omuma Federal Constituency. Nwuzi’s supporters have expressed disappointment at the development and have called for his immediate release. However, it is unclear at this time what the next steps will be for Nwuzi and his legal team and how this will impact his campaign for re-election.
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