A Magistrates’ Court in Calabar on Monday ordered that nine men be remanded for allegedly abducting Ekanem Ephraim, a professor and lead consultant of neurology at the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital (UCTH).
The suspects are Effiom Asuquo, 60; Ndifreke Akpan, 29; Effiom Edet, 20; Asuquo Edet, 45 and Okon Okon, 37.
They were charged with four unlawful possession of dangerous weapons and kidnapping.
Other suspects are Emmanuel Bassey, 35; Bassey Edet, 20; Effiong Edet, 35 and Patience Etim, 21.
Magistrate Mercy Ene did not take the plea of the suspects for want in jurisdiction.
The magistrate said that the suspects were charged under Section 4(1)(2), Section 2(b) and Section 5(1) of the Kidnapping (prohibition) Law of Cross River State 2015.
She noted that by section 12 of the law, only the state high court has jurisdiction to try any offence charged under this law.
The magistrate subsequently granted the exparte motion for the suspects to be remanded in prison custody brought before the court by the prosecutor, Edosa Ufumwen, a superintendent of police.
Mr Ufumwen had argued that the exparte motion was according to Section 290 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Law (ACJL) of the state for the suspects to be remanded pending their arraignment before a high court.
This position was, however, challenged by the counsel to the defendant, Mustapha Igweshi who argued that his clients were entitled to bail.
Mr Igweshi said that by Section 36 of the 1999 Constitution, defendants are still presumed to be innocent and therefore entitled to bail.
The prosecutor while arguing against granting bail to the defendants, said, “The defence counsel has no right of audience as the application before the court was made exparte.
“Secondly, since Section 12 of the Kidnapping Prohibition Law of the state has stripped the court of the jurisdiction to entertain this charge, the court can not grant bail but remand as enshrined under Section 290 of ACJL of Cross River State.”
The magistrate subsequently ordered the suspects to be remanded in Correctional Service and adjourned the matter to September 25, 2023, for a ruling on the bail application.
It would be recalled that Ms Ekanem’s abduction on 13 July 13 around the Atimbo area of Calabar attracted public outrage.
The state chapter of the Nigeria Medical Association recently suspended a 40-days strike over her abduction.
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