Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Ex-Rep, lawyer charged with stealing

THE police have charged a two-time House of Representatives member, Nze Chidi Duru and a senior lawyer, Smart Iheazor, with stealing and impersonation.
The police accused the first defendant, Duru and second defendant Iheazor of stealing three office files and one HP Laptop valued at N250,000, property of an Abuja-based firm.They were arraigned yesterday before Magistrate A. A. Adefulire of a Tinubu Chief Magistrates’ Court, Lagos.

The defendants, who are both senior lawyers of 28 and 30 years post-call, are standing trial on a four-count charge bordering on conspiracy, stealing, breach of peace and impersonation.

Prosecuting counsel Mr. P. O Idenyenmia told the court that the property belonged to First Guarantee Pension Ltd (FGPL) and that the defendants conspired to commit the alleged offences on January 11, at 65 Kudirat Abiola Way, Oregun, Ikeja, Lagos.

He alleged that the defendants conducted themselves in a manner likely to cause breach of peace by willfully and unlawfully invading the firm with intent to forcibly take over its management and assets.

The defendants, Idenyenmia added, with intent to defraud introduced themselves as vice chairman and secretary respectively of First Guarantee Pension Ltd and acted in an attempt to take over the firm.

According to him, the offences were punishable under Sections 409, 285, 166 (d) and 378 (1) of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, 2011. Both defendants pleaded not guilty to the charge.

Duru’s counsel Emeka Etiaba, SAN told the court that his client was too ill to stand trial, could not even stand upright without assistance and was even about to collapse inside the courtroom.

Duru, he added, was discharged from the hospital yesterday morning and was whisked to the court by the police. He made an oral application for the arraignment to be adjourned. But the prosecutor argued that Duru had been certified fit to go home by doctors at the police hospital.

He said he could not return Duru to police custody, especially since a magistrate had already issued a warrant for the defendant’s arrest since last Friday.

Magistrate Adefulire upheld the prosecution’s argument and ordered the defendants to enter the dock.
Etiaba added: “They have been in police custody for four days, which contravenes their constitutional rights. Their rights have been infringed. The first defendant is a member of the bar of 28 years and was a two-time former member of the House of Representatives and a chairman of Guarantee Pension.

“He is the founder and promoter of Guarantee Pension and it was going to be forcibly taken away. The second defendant is his counsel and a partner at their law firm, White and Kings Chambers, in Abuja. I urge the court to grant them bail in the most liberal terms.”.

The prosecutor observed that the defendants reside and practice in Abuja and they should thus be made to provide sureties.

Ruling, Magistrate Adefulire granted the defendants N500,000 bail each with one surety in the like sum. The case was adjourned till March 9 and 10, for hearing

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