Lagos — The Federal High Court sitting in Warri Delta State has fixed November 17th 2020 for the arraignment of three persons over the allege attempt to extort and defame Professor Maureen Etebu, former Vice Chancellor of the Nigerian Maritime University, NMU, Okerenghigho, in Warri South West Local Government Area of the State.
The three person arrested by operatives of the Zonal Headquarters of the Nigerian Police Zone 5 are Dr. Vincent Akpoveta, 38 years, Doboikiabo Warmate, 47 years, and Mr. Edgar Daniel Biu 47 years were accused of alleged involvement in the conspiracy to extort the total sum of N7.7billion on various occasions in June 2020.
In the suit number FHC/WR/66CC/2020, filed by the Inspector General of Police with eight count charges of alleged extortion and attempt to defame the character of Maureen Etebu which is punishable by section24(2) (a) (b) (1) of the cybercrime prohibition and proclamation Act 2015.
In the charge sheet present in Court, the accused were alleged to have in June sent an offensive and obscene mails to the former Vice Chancellor, Prof Maureen Etebu thereby committing offences punishable under section 24 (a)(b) of the cybercrime Prohibition and Revocation Act.
Part of charge sheet reads: “That in June 2020, they sent email to the former Vice Chancellor Maureen Etebu with attempt to extort N150,000,000 from her and another attempt to in June 2020 to extort N200,000,000 punishable by section 24(2)(a)(b)(6)(1) and (1) of the cybercrime Prohibition Act 2015.”
Attemps by the Police Prosecution Counsel, Barr. N. A. Ukpebor to move for the taking of plea by the accused on the eight count charges brought against them argued by the defence counsel on the issue of timing and three days right of the accused between arrest and arraignment.
The trio of Defence counsels Barr. N. Trofaniowei, (4th Respondent), Barr. Brave Enodah (3rd Respondent), and Barr.N.Ohre (1st Respondent), argued that instead of taking the plea from the accused and commence trial, the arraignment should be moved to 12th of November, 2020 to allow for the three days right of the accused as provided for under section 38(6) of the Criminal Justice Administration Act.
They argued that the three days being sought will allow the accused and their counsels to study the charges brought against them, list of witnesses and the proof of evidence provided by the prosecution.
But Barr, Ukpebor pleaded with the Presiding Judge that the claims of non-preparedness by the defence counsels based on the accused health status and three days right should be dis0counternaced as the accused readiness to return to court and take plea may be in doubt.
He pleaded that the Presiding Judge orders for plea to be taken from the accused and a date can be taken for adjournment.
But the Presiding of the Federal High Court Justice Emeka Nwete after hearing the arguments and counter arguments between the prosecuting counsel and the trio of Defence counsels Barr. N. Trofaniowei, (4th Respondent), Barr. Brave Enodah (3rd Respondent), and Barr .N. Ohre (1st Respondent), ordered that the three accused must be produced in Court on the 17th of November, 2020 for the plea and proper arraignment.
Justice Nwete warned the defence counsels that if any one of the three accused are not present in Court on the adjourned date, he will ensure that punitive measures are taken against thee accused counsels.