N28m fraud: Age saves eight community elders from prison remand

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Eight elders of Ipupe Ubakala community in the Umuahia South council area of Abia State have escaped remand in a custodial centre after a judge considered their advanced ages.

The defendants, Ben David (73), Monday Umezuruike (76), Isaiah Ngwaba (76), Bob Ikondu (76) and Uche Onwukanjo (69), are facing allegation of embezzlement of N28m community fund.

They were arraigned on Friday before a High Court sitting at Umuahia by the state Directorate of Public Prosecutions on five counts, including conspiracy to commit fraud, between December 2016 and July 2019, to which they pleaded not guilty.

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The prosecutor and state counsel, Emenike Okoro, asked the court to deny the accused persons bail considering the amount involved, adding that the money was entrusted to them on trust by the community.

However, counsel for the accused persons, Eze Kelechi, in a nine-paragraph counter affidavit, stated that the alleged offences were bailable.

The judge, Justice Mary Enwereji, in her ruling, said the accused persons would not be kept behind the bars because of their ages.

 

She admitted them to bail in the sum of N3m each with a surety in like sum.

Justice Enwereji said the court would not hesitate to issue a warrant of arrest on any surety that failed to present any of the accused persons while the matter lasted.
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