Enugu Court Jails LP Candidate For Seven Years Amid Allegations Of Bias, Conspiracy

An Enugu South Magistrate Court, presided over by Justice E.D. Onwu, has sentenced Hon. Bright Ngene, the Labour Party (LP) candidate for Enugu South Urban state Constituency, to seven years’ imprisonment. 

PLATFORM TIMES gathered that the case dates back to 2017, when Ngene and two others were arraigned by the Nigeria Police Force, Enugu Command, in a matter involving community funds worth about N15 million. 

This case, which had been dormant, was revived after Ngene’s victory in the March 18, 2023, general elections. Ngene’s win over the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate, Sam Ngene, led to a contested election result and a tribunal-ordered rerun in eight polling units.

Ngene has raised concerns about the timing and motivations behind the revival of the case, suggesting it is a plot by the state executive and judiciary to punish him for winning the election. 

He claims that the Chief Judge of Enugu State, Justice A.R. Ozoemena, Deputy Chief Registrar Chijioke Agbo, and Magistrate Onwu have conspired to disregard a petition he filed with the National Judicial Council (NJC), which seized the case.

In a petition to the NJC, Ngene alleged corruption and abuse of judicial power, accusing the officials of rushing the trial to imprison him before the rerun election.

 He argued that the NJC should be allowed to decide on the matter, rather than the court proceeding with what he deems a biased trial. 

Ngene fears this judicial action is aimed at disqualifying him from participating in the rerun and destroying his political and legal careers.

The situation escalated on Thursday when the defence team requested an adjournment to prepare a response to the prosecution’s application.

 However, Magistrate Onwu insisted on proceeding with the trial on Friday, citing instructions from the Chief Judge.

 The defence lawyers, frustrated by the perceived bias, stormed out of the courtroom in protest.

Addressing journalists, defence counsel C.J.S. Okereke accused Magistrate Onwu of being compromised and called for the case to be transferred to another court. 

Okereke highlighted that the community had sought to discontinue the matter and expressed dissatisfaction with Onwu’s handling of the case. 

He also pointed out that their petitions to the Chief Judge and the NJC had gone unanswered.

In response to the sentencing, Akwuke community members held a protest, carrying placards accusing Magistrate Onwu of lawlessness and bias.

They lamented that  despite the ongoing NJC investigation and public outcry, Magistrate Onwu delivered the guilty verdict and sentenced Ngene to seven years in prison.

Magistrate Onwu stated that there must be an end to litigation, implying the necessity of concluding the prolonged legal battle.


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