Alleged Terrorism: I’m unaware law prohibits mention of IPOB, Eze Ndigbo tells court

 

The Eze Ndigbo of Ajao Estate, Lagos, Frederick Nwajagu, charged with terrorism, says he did not know there was a law prohibiting a person from mentioning the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) in Nigeria.

Mr Nwajagu said this while giving evidence before the Lagos High Court at Tafawa Balewa Square.

He is standing trial on nine counts bordering on an attempt to commit acts of terrorism, financing terrorism, participating in terrorism and meeting to support a proscribed entity.

On the resumed hearing on Monday, the defendant was led in evidence by his counsel, Emefo Etudo.

The defendant told the court that he had never referred to himself as a king but as a leader to the Igbo-speaking people in Ajao Estate.

Mr Nwajagu He said the video shown to the court where he was talking was not the original but an edited one. He noted that what he said in his house was an empty threat to calm the Igbo people down.

“After the 2023 elections, some people came to my house. I gave them drinks and made the statement, believing there is freedom of speech and association in Nigeria.

“I have no connection with IPOB,” he said.

The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Babajide Martins, cross-examined the defendant.

The defendant told the court that when interrogated at the State Security Service (SSS) office, he informed operatives that he had no relationship with IPOB.

Mr Nwajagu repeated that he was not the person who recorded the video.

“I made the statement that went viral because of the Igbo people whose shops were looted and burnt, including what MC Oluomo said against the Igbos in Lagos.

“I made a second video while at Panti police station, denouncing the first video. I regret making the first speech because I didn’t know there was a law prohibiting people from mentioning IPOB.”

After the cross-examination, his counsel urged the court to release the defendant on bail. He said the prosecution had closed its case, and the nature of its evidence should not counter the bail application.

The prosecution, however, urged the court to reject the bail application.

After all the arguments on bail applications, Justice Yetunde Adesanya adjourned until March 26 for a ruling on bail applications.

Ms Adesanya told the parties to file all their written addresses since the defence had already closed its case.

She also gave April 16 for the adoption of final written addresses.

On July 25, 2023, the defendant applied for bail, citing his medical reports and adding that he was not a flight risk. On July 28, the court refused the application based on the offence’s seriousness and its punishment’s severity.

The Lagos State government, in a suit marked no. LD/21505C/2023 alleged that the defendant’s acts contravened section 403(2) of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, 2015.

The state stated that the offences also contravened sections 12(a) (c), 18, 21 and 29 of the Terrorism Prevention & Prohibition Act, 2022.

Operatives of the SSS arrested Mr Nwajagu over an alleged threat to invite members of the IPOB to Lagos to secure the properties of Igbo people in the state.


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