Prof. Obiajulu Obikeze and four others were, on Tuesday, arraigned by the police before Justice Inyang Ekwo of a Federal High Court, Abuja, over allegations bordering on forgery.
Obikeze, who works with the Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University, formerly known as Anambra State University Igbariam in Anambra, is charged alongside others on 11 counts.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that while the Federal Republic of Nigeria, through the Inspector-General of Police, is the complainant, Obikeze, Dr Raymond Ofor, Chief Ezue, Sir Amobi Nwafor and Okafor Bethram IK are 1st to 5th defendants respectively.
Earlier when the matter was called, the prosecuting counsel, Celestine Odo, informed that the matter was slated for arraignment and all the defendants were in court.
“It is our application that the 11-count charge filed July 6, 2021, be read to them for them to take their plea,” he said.
The defendants, however, pleaded not guilty to all the charges.
Odo, who prayed the court for a date for the trial, said 19 witnesses had been listed to prosecute the case.
The lawyer hinted that while about five of the witnesses would be invited to testify in court, others would give their testimony in the alternative.
He, therefore, urged the court to give an order remanding the defendants in a correctional centre pending the perfection of their bail terms but Justice Ekwo declined.
Ekwo said since the police had already given them an administrative bail, the defendants should continue with the bail conditions.
The judge, who adjourned the matter until May 23, May 24 and May 25 for trial commencement, ordered the prosecution to submit the administrative bail terms to the court.
Counsel for the defendants, Kelvin Nwofo, SAN, in an interview shortly after the sitting, said though he had a motion for bail, he expressed gratitude that the court admitted his clients to bail on the earlier one granted by the police.
NAN reports that in the charge number: FHC/ABJ/CR/184/2021 dated and filed on July 6, 2021, by Odo, the defendants were alleged to have committed the offence around Jan.15, 2019, at Awa, Orumba North Local Government Area of Anambra.
In count one, the five defendants, and others now at large, were alleged to have conspired to commit forgery offence contrary to Section 3(6) and punishable under Section 1(2) (c) of the Miscellaneous Offences Act, Cap M17 Laws of Nigeria, 2010.
While count two accused them of altering forged documents, count three accused them of making “a forged letter to the Special Adviser to the Governor of Anambra on Chieftaincy and Towns Union Matters.
The document is titled, “Submission of Awa Chieftaincy Constitution,” knowing it to be false, with intent that it may be acted upon as genuine at the Government House, Awka, Anambra State.”