A rivers State High Court sitting in Port Harcourt has discharged and acquitted the traditional ruler of Aluu community in Ikwerre Council, Alhaji Hassan Welewa, and four others alleged to have been involved in the murder of four undergraduates of the University of Port Harcourt.
The monarch and 11 others have been standing trial since December 2012, following the murder of the Uniport students- Ugonna Obuzor, Toku Lloyd, Tekena Elkannah and Chiadika Biringa- on Friday, October 5, 2012.
The deceased were burnt to death allegedly by youths in Omuokiri, Aluu community allegedly with the consent of the monarch.However, the accused persons were granted bail on January 25, 2013, following the report of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), which indicated that the accused persons- Welewa, Okoghiroh Endurance, Ozioma Abajuo and Chigozie Evans Samuel- have no prima facie case of murder disclosed against them.
Seven other accused persons- Lawal Segun, Lucky Orji, Ikechukwu Louis Amadi (aka Kapoon), David Chinasa Ogbada, Abiodun Yusuf, Joshua Ekpe and Cyril Abang- were refused bail.
The trial Judge, Justice Letam Nyordee, while delivering the judgment yesterday, discharged and acquitted Segun, Endurance, Abajuo Samuel and the traditional ruler after the DPP filed a no-case submission on them to the court, saying they had no case to answer in the matter.
He ruled that no prima-facie case was established against the five persons and set them free.Meanwhile, the remaining seven accused persons are still facing trial and the matter has been adjourned till February 9, this year for continuation.
Welewa has described the court ruling as an act of God, saying the judgment was a true justice, as he never had hands in the murder of the four students.
He further slammed his kinsmen for their conducts during his trial period, noting that they intended to dethrone him.In a another development, a Federal High Court in Port Harcourt yesterday struck out a suit filed by a group seeking to annul the Ogoni Civil Disturbance Tribunal that convicted and sentenced to death by hanging, the Ogoni rights activist, the late Ken Saro-Wiwa, and eight others.
The group, Ken Saro-Wiwa Associates, had approached the court, asking it to declare the special tribunal constituted by the military government and process of setting up the panel as unlawful.
The group had also asked the court, among other reliefs sought, to set aside the October 31, 1995 judgment of the tribunal against Ken Saro-Wiwa and the others.
Justice Mohammed Liman, while condemning the ruling of the tribunal that convicted the nine activists, noted that such laws could not exist in a civilised society.
Liman held that the tribunal was not properly constituted, noting that three men formed the tribunal, whereas the constitution provides for the chairman and three other members.
But he stuck out the case on locus standi, noting that the applicant was unable to state his relationship with the convicts and had nothing to gain or lose in the matter, adding that it was for academic reasons.
Speaking outside the courtroom, the counsel for the applicant, Golden Aawi, said he was satisfied with the ruling of the court, pointing out that the court had in its judgment condemned the killing of the Ogoni sons.
Aawi stated that the court based its judgment on the 1st and 7th grounds, stating that the judgment does not invalidate the claims of the complainant. Meanwhile, the applicant, who is the leader of Ken Saro-Wiwa Associates, Chief Gani Topba, said he would appeal the judgment.