A Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court in Gudu, Abuja on Thursday remanded a debarred lawyer, Emeka Ugwuonye, who runs a popular Facebook page, “Due Process Advocate”, in prison following his arraignment by the police.
Mr Ugwuonye was arraigned on a 10-count charge of extortion, impersonation, injurious falsehood and false information.
He was accused of extorting money from the family of a woman he falsely alleged was killed by her estranged husband.
One of the charges reads: “That you Ephraim Chukwuemeka Ugwuonye (m) on or about May to date, at diverse places in Abuja within the jurisdiction of this honourable court did commit illegal act to wit: extortion by threat of accusation of an offence punishable by death, when you intentionally extorted monies and other valuables from friends and associates of late Mrs Charity Chidiebere Aiyedogbon (f) and other members of the public, that Mr David Aiyedogbon killed his late wife, Charity Chidiebere Aiyedogbon. You thereby committed an offence contrary to and punishable under section 295 0f the penal code law.
The defendant pleaded not guilty when the charge was read to him.
Thereafter, his lawyer, Ifeanyi Chukwu, urged the court to grant the defendant bail pending trial.
But the police counsel, Edwin Ochai, opposed the application.
“I pray to the court to enable us to assemble and present to the court all the witnesses to prove the allegations against the defendant,” Mr Ochai said.
After listening to both counsel, the judge, Modupe Osho-Adebiyi, ordered that Mr Ugwuonye should be remanded in the Kuje prison.
Ms Osho-Adebiyi adjourned the matter to January 10, 2019, for argument on the bail application.
According to a report by THISDAY newspaper, Mr Ugwuonye was first arraigned alongside two Abuja-based lawyers, Nsikak Udoh and Farouk Khamagam, before a Chief Magistrate Court for their alleged criminal roles in the disappearance of the late Mrs Aiyedogbon.
According to the report, Mr Ugwuonye is charged with false evidence and injurious falsehood, contrary to sections: 158 and 393 of the Penal Code; while the other two lawyers were charged with criminal conspiracy, forgery, impersonation, giving false information with intent to mislead a public servant contrary to sections 97, 364, 179, and 178 of the Penal Code.
The report added that Mr Ugwuonye is on court bail in the sum of N5 million, with a surety who must be a civil servant earning not less than N300,000 monthly and has a traceable address in the FCT.
According to the report, Mr Ugwuonye had claimed in the exhibits tendered before the court to have overwhelming evidence that the missing woman was dead, and that she was killed by her estranged husband, David Aiyedogbon. He was expected to show the evidence before the court.
The report stated that Mr Ugwuonye’s trouble started when, in different posts on his Facebook group, DPA, he wrote: “I now have overwhelming evidence that Mr David Aiyedogbon killed his wife, Chacha. David has an idea of the kind of evidence at my disposal.”
In another post, he wrote: “This is the headless and dismembered body of Charity Aiyedogbon (posting a corpse on his DPA Facebook group). DPA has been able to identify this as her body within the limits of resources at our disposal.
“I will describe David as a low-life and cold-blooded murderer of his own wife. The issue is not whether Emeka’s account is accurate or not, but, rather, the issue is whether Emeka has evidence that would send David to the hangman. Yes, I do…”
When invited by the police to produce the evidence, after several meetings, Mr Ugwuonye allegedly was unable to produce any to substantiate his claims.
Mr Ugwuonye is already facing a N10 billion defamation suit filed by Mr Aiyedogbon before Peter Kekemeke of the FCT High Court, Apo Abuja.