By Davies Iheamnachor
PORT HARCOURT: A Magistrate Court sitting in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, has remanded the formal Managing Director of the State’s Microfinance Agency, Dr. Ipalibo Walson Sogules, and three other heads of the agency for alleged money fraud.
The four defendants, Sogules, Nimi Harry, Ukele Okorji and Sofiri Koko, are standing trial on two counts bordering on conspiracy and advanced fee fraud of over N13 million naira.
Governor Nyesom Wike had on Monday approved and announced the sacking of the four directors and some other staff members of the agency over alleged fee fraud.
When the matter appeared at Magistrate Court on Tuesday, the charges against the defendants were not read, and plea not taken.
However, the defence counsel, Mr. Alozie, who relied on Section 165 of the Rivers State Administration of Criminal Justice Law, urged the court to grant the defendants bail as they have no records of conviction.
Alozie further drew the attention of the court to the COVID 19 pandemic protocol which could not permit more persons into the Correctional Centres, and the medical history of the 1st and 4th defendants, as hypertension patients.
Meanwhile, the prosecuting counsel, Chidi Ekeh, who noted that the court lacked the jurisdiction to entertain the matter, urged it to remand the suspects based on the two charges against them.
The presiding Chief Magistrate A. O. Amadi-Nna, in his ruling, held that the court lacked the jurisdiction to entertain or hear the matter.
He stated that the charges are capital offence, urging the prosecution to arraign the defendants at the federal high court.
He ordered that the defendants be remanded in Swift Operation Squad SOS police station due to COVID-19 protocol.
The Chief Magistrates, further ordered that the case file be forwarded to the Department of Public Prosecution, DPP, and adjourned till the 6th of July 2020 for legal advice.