The Enugu East Magistrate Court Dismisses Criminal Suit Against 20 Residents Over Unlawful Society Allegations
In a recent ruling, the Enugu East Magistrate Court has acquitted and discharged 20 residents of the state who were facing charges related to their alleged involvement in an unlawful society. The court’s decision came after the defence counsel presented a no case submission, which was upheld by Chief Magistrate A. C. Mbah in case No: CME/587c/2019 – Commissioner of Police vs Henry Oputa & 19 Ors.
Chief Magistrate Mbah found that the prosecution had failed to provide sufficient evidence to substantiate the two-count charge against the defendants. The prosecution witnesses’ testimonies were discredited during cross-examination, rendering their evidence unreliable and lacking credibility.
The defendants had been brought before the court on April 6, 2023, facing charges of conspiracy to belong to an unlawful society, which is punishable under Section 495(a) of the Criminal Code, Cap. 30, vol. II Revised Laws of Enugu State of Nigeria 2004. Additionally, the charge stated that they had registered with RC 7458 under the name De Norsemen Kclub Inc., posing as an unlawful society, and had held a meeting for the Vikings Confraternity, thereby violating Section 8 of the Public Order (Prohibition of Secret Cults and their activities) Law No. 17 Revised of Enugu State of Nigeria 2009.
The defendants were apprehended on September 7, 2019, at a hotel in Enugu during the convention of De Norsemen Kclub Inc., by the police. While some of them admitted their membership in the club, arguing that it was not a secret cult, six others denied any affiliation and claimed they were present at the hotel for different reasons.
During the trial, the prosecution called two witnesses and presented six exhibits, including a document from the Corporate Affairs Commission. However, the defence team, led by E.E. Anosike with S.P.C. Nwokolo, Okoronkwo Uneke, and S.A. Nwankwo, asserted that the prosecution had failed to establish a prima facie case, thus not warranting the defendants to enter their defense.
Chief Magistrate Mbah, in delivering the judgment, concluded that the prosecution had been unable to prove its case against the defendants.