An Imo Magistrates’ court sitting in Owerri, on Thursday, remanded the immediate past deputy governor of the state, Gerald Irona, in prison custody.
The Presiding Magistrate, C. N Ezerioha, after listening to the prosecution counsel and defence counsel, ordered that Irona be remanded in Owerri correctional centre.
But the presiding magistrate added that the court does not have the jurisdiction to hear the matter.
Earlier, counsel to the ex-deputy governor, S. I Imo had immediately after his client’s arraignment moved a motion that Irona be granted bail on self-recognition.
Imo said that if the ex-deputy governor could not be granted bail on self-recognition, a state lawmaker, Frank Ugboma, representing Oguta State constituency, was willing to take him on bail.
But the lead prosecutor, Sunday Ogbuji, opposed the bail application, saying that the Magistrate lacked jurisdiction to hear the matter.
Apart from that, the lead prosecutor said one of the charges preferred against Irona bothered on felony.
Ogbuji said only a judge of a high court could grant Irona bail.
After hearing both parties, the magistrate ordered that the ex-deputy governor be remanded in prison.
The magistrate in her ruling, agreed with the prosecution counsel that she lacked the jurisdiction to entertain the matter or grant the accused bail.
The judge while ordering that Irona be remanded in Owerri Correctional centre, said that the prosecution counsel should make all documents available to the defence counsel to enable them take the next legal action.
She also ordered that the case file be transferred to the Department of Public Prosecution.
The three-count read, “That you, Hon Gerald Irona sometime in January 2020, at Owerri in the Owerri Magisterial District, did conspire with others now at large, to commit felony to wit: treason and thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 37(2) of the criminal code, cap c 38, Law of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 2004, as applicable in Imo State.
“That you Hon Gerald Irona sometime in January 2020, at Owerri in the Owerri magistrate district, did make several utterances to the effect that you will make Imo State ungovernable and immediately afterwards hoodlums levied several attacks on Imo State with intent to intimidate or overawe the governor of Imo State and thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 37 of the Criminal Code, Cap, c 38, law of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 2004, as applicable in Imo State.
“That you Hon Gerald Irona on the 15th day of January, 2020, at Owerri in the Owerri magistrate district, do convert to your own use two Land Cruiser jeeps ( V8 and V6) and one Toyota Hilux vehicle valued four hundred and Ninety-three million naira property of Imo State Government thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 390 ( 9) of the Criminal Code, Cap c 38, laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 2004, as applicable in Imo state.”
Briefing journalists after the court rose, one of the defence counsels, Kissinger Ikeokwu, expressed optimism that the ex-deputy governor would be granted bail at the high court.
Ikeokwu, who is the Legal Adviser of the Peoples Democratic Party, said Irona’s ordeal was politically motivated.
The police had on Wednesday arrested Irona at his Owerri residence, a development the state chapter of the PDP described as a plot to assassinate the immediate past deputy governor.
Irona was the deputy governor of the state between May 29, 2019, and January 14, 2020, when the Supreme Court ordered that Emeka Ihedioha be removed as the governor of the state and Uzodinma be sworn in as the duly elected governor of the state.