Attempted murder of Prof. Akunyili: Supreme Court orders trial of key suspects

Posted by News Express | 13 July 2013 | 5,132 times

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The relentless pursuit of justice by former Nigerian Information and Communications Minister, Prof. Dora Akunyili, in respect of the December 26, 2003 assassination attempt on her life yielded fruit yesterday when the country’s Supreme Court ordered the trial of the key suspects.

The apex court sitting in Abuja, the Nigerian capital, unanimously ruled that the appeal by Messrs Marcel Nnakwe and Emmanuel Nnamdi Nnakwe (a.k.a Aboy) lacked merit and ordered them to return to an Abuja High Court and face criminal charges in respect of the attempt on Akunyili’s life which came in the thick of her battle against drug barons during her days as Director-General of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC).

In the verdict delivered by Justice Clara Bata Ogunbiyi, the Supreme Court declared that the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja High Court has jurisdiction to continue to entertain the case against the Nnakwes, whose appeal attacked the competence of counts 3 and 4, as well as the authority of the fiat given to Chief Afe Babalola (SAN), a private prosecutor, by the Minister of Justice/Attorney-General of the Federation. The appeal did not only attack Babalola’s authority to pursue the case but also challenged the jurisdiction of the Abuja High Court to entertain it.

Throwing out the appeal, the Supreme Court held that “counts 3 and 4 of the charge are continuing manifestation of the acts in counts 1 and 2 and are all interwoven elements of one and another; counts 3 and 4 are therefore also made triable by the High Court of the FCT.”

According to the apex court, “An offence which is only an offence by reason of its connection with other offences is triable either where the offence occurred or where the offence to which it is related occurred.”

Reacting to the judgement, Prof. Akunyili said this evening on her Facebook wall: “God is great! He does His things at His own time . . . My faith in God and in the Nigerian Judiciary has been further strengthened by this judgement. I have no doubt that Almighty God who made it possible for me to miraculously survive that assassination attempt engineered by drug barons will also ensure that I get justice in the end. To God be the glory.”

News Express recalls that the Supreme Court had on December 7 last year discharged and acquitted another suspect, Mr. Jude Ugwu (a.k.a Agada), saying that there was not enough evidence to sustain the criminal charge against him. Other suspects in the case are Francis Okoye (aka Ebubedike), Emeka Orjiakor, Christopher Okwara Mbah (a.k.a Persu) and Olisaemeka Igbokwe (a.k.a Holy War).

The suspects are alleged to have agreed with one another, at different places including Abuja and Anambra State, to murder Prof. Akunyili on the way to her country home in Agulu, Anambra State. Prof. Akunyili narrowly escaped death after a bullet scraped her scarf, but a commercial driver by name Emeka Onuekutu was not so fortunate as he was felled by bullets aimed at the then NAFDAC boss.

An Abuja High Court presided over by Justice Ishaq Bello had quashed the charge against all the suspects and discharged them after sitting on the case for a long time, saying it lacked territorial jurisdiction to adjudicate on the matter. The prosecutor did not only appeal the verdict but Justice Bello was also dragged before the National Judicial Council (NJC) for alleged professional misconduct.

Photo shows Prof. Akunyili.

Source: News Express

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