By Ruth Oginyi
Chinedu Agama, a chief magistrate in the Ebonyi state judiciary, has been dragged before an administrative panel for granting bail to suspects being prosecuted for their roles in the leadership crisis rocking the Ebonyi state chapter of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).
Orient Daily gathered that Agama was allegedly queried and transferred out of the state judicial headquarters in Abakaliki to Onueke, Ezza South local government area of the state by the state judicial management because of the controversial bail he granted to the suspects.
After the transfer, the state Judicial Service Commission set up a panel headed by Magistrate U.N.O Nweze to probe him. The panel, which commenced sitting last Thursday, barred journalists and lawyers from witnessing the proceeding.
Nweze said journalists and lawyers were barred from observing the proceeding because it was an in-house matter. “What we are doing here is a very small administrative panel to look into complaints against one of us and, of course, you know in an organisation like this, there is some inbuilt mechanism to look into complaints against supposedly erring staff. So, (it is) not everything that requires to be made public in court at a stage. If it were a judicial panel, probably we allow journalists to come in and cover the proceedings but this one is an in-house thing,” Nweze explained.
This paper gathered that, as the leadership battle between two PDP factions, led by Bar Onyekachi Nwebonyi and Elder Fred Udeogu, raged, the Udeogu faction had stormed the party’s secretariat along the Abakaliki/Enugu highway, claiming that it had a court order to take over the facility. The faction’s youth leader, Barrister Obinna Iteshi, and two other members, Chukwunonso Ngamgbo and Chibuzor Nwakpa, who were arrested by the police in connection with the clash that ensued at the secretariat, were arraigned before the State Magistrate Court, sitting in Abakaliki presided over by Chinedu Agama.
The accused persons were arraigned on the four-count of charge bordering on felony, conspiracy, break-in and entry, among others. However, things took a controversial twist when the presiding magistrate, Agama, granted the suspects bail in the sum of N50,000.00 each, with one surety.
Meanwhile, the state attorney-general and commissioner for justice, Chief Cletus Ofoke, has denied speculations that he was behind Agama’s ordeal. “The allegation that I am the one behind what is going on is unfounded. I want to inform you, maybe you didn’t know before now, that I am a member of the Judicial Service Commission. We received a report on the abuse of office in respect of the man and that does not amount to attorney general masterminding it. And for your information, I am not a member of PDP.
“My own is that we have the Judicial Commission and we have rules and magistrate and other court staff are the employees of the Ebonyi state Judicial Service Commission. I am not even the chairman of the commission. So, the allegation is unfounded. I am a member of APC. So, they should leave me out of their trouble.”