…Judge kicks as court security moves to prevent suspects’ arrest
By Our Reporter
Some alleged leaders of the dreaded Akwa Marine cult group were last week arrested at the State High Court in Ikot Ekpene Judicial Division on the orders of the Akwa Ibom State Police Commissioner, Mr Adeyemi Ogunjemilusi.
A mild drama however ensued as the court orderly who is rumoured to be a blood sister to the presiding judge who sometime ago reportedly molested one Ubong Okon Udo one of the prosecuting witnesses in the murder trial, was said to have hurriedly locked up the gang leader and other suspects in one of the offices in the court room for over three hours in a bid to sabotage efforts by the police to effect arrest.
Our paper gathered that when the information got to the leader of the Police anti cult crack team, he confronted the trial judge who expressed shock and immediately ordered for the evacuation of the suspects from the court premises for arrest to be effected.
It was learnt that the judge who already is battling to clear his name with the NJC following his decision to grant the accused persons bail on controversial circumstance, cautioned the court staff from further actions that will jeopardize his defense before the Judicial Panel who according to his claims, are already rattling him over some petitions concerning his handling of the case.
The police had on the orders of the State Police Commissioner stationed outside the court premises laying siege for the cultists who normally invade the court premises anytime the matter came up for hearing and often intimidate and threaten some prosecuting witnesses.
The Police Anti-Cult Unit who already had the directive through the CP based on the recommendation from high profile state government official to revisit a petition by members of the community got wind of the development and swung into action, our paper gathered.
After more than three hours of standoff between the police and court security, the leader of the Police team upon noticing that the gates and doors of the court premises had been locked demanded to see the trial judge. He was alleged to have notified the judge of the sabotage. The judge who was visibly upset by the development warned all staff of the court and security personnel on duty, insisting that as a custodian of the law, justice must be done and the police must be allowed to do their job in accordance with the law.
The suspects were then ordered out of the court premises from where they were arrested and detained at the State Police Headquarters in Ikot Akpan Abia for further interrogation.
When news of the arrest filtered out, the people of Midim Community in Essien Udim LGA were sighted in droves at the Police Headquarters Ikot Akpan Abia, Uyo, celebrating the arrest of the suspected cultists.
It could be recalled that the Akwa Marine kingpin, Mr Emmanuel Ben and some of his lieutenants are already standing trial for Murder and other criminal charges at the State High Court in Ikot Ekpene Judicial Division.
Ben who had his bail application granted by the court in controversial circumstance also shunned every move by the community leaders and Traditional Council to persuade him and his gang to desist from criminal activities.
He is alleged to have immediately resumed his criminal tendencies after his bail, unleashing various attacks including assassination attempt and armed robbery on those suspected to be behind his earlier arrest and prosecution.
A Woman leader from Midim who did not want her name in print said the arrest of the suspected cultists has rekindled hope of the helpless community. She commended the efforts of the new Police Commissioner and his anti Cult Team, urging the Police not to relent on its renewed effort aimed at curbing the activities of the group.
Meanwhile, other members of the Akwa Marine cult group were seen jubilating the anticipated release of their members, boasting that the court will throw out the charges upon which their leaders were earlier arraigned and reportedly promising to deal with those who facilitated their prosecution when the news got to them that their leaders were again arrested by the Police and taken into custody at the State Police Headquarters.