Enugu court acquits 20 residents, rules De Norsemen not secret cult

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By Emmanuel Uzodinma

An Enugu East Magistrate Court has dismissed a criminal suit filed against 20 residents of the State concerning their alleged membership of an unlawful society.

The court, in delivering its judgement, upheld a no case submission made by the defence counsel in the case No: CME/587c/2019- Commissioner of Police vs Henry Oputa & 19 Ors.

Chief Magistrate A. C. Mbah also discharged the defendants on the ground that the prosecution failed woefully in proving the ingredients of the two-count charge and that the evidence adduced by the prosecution witnesses was discredited as a result of cross examination and rendered manifestly unreliable.

The defendants were arraigned before the court on April 6, 2023 on a two-count charge of conspiracy to belong to “an unlawful society and thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 495(a) of the Criminal Code, Cap. 30, vol. II Revised Laws of Enugu State of Nigeria 2004.”

The charge also held that they “did register with RC 7458 with the name De Norsemen Kclub Inc. under the disguise of unlawful society on 6th and 7th days of September, 2019, gather themselves under the guise and held the meeting of Vikings Confraternity, an unlawful society and thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 8 of Public Order (Prohibition of Secret Cults and their activities) Law No. 17 Revised of Enugu State of Nigeria 2009.”

The defendants were arrested at a Hotel, Enugu on 7th September, 2019, during the convention of De Norsemen Kclub Inc. by the police.

In their statements to the police, some of them admitted their membership of the club and insisted that it was not a secret cult, while about six others denied membership, asserting that they were in the hotel facility for other reasons.

Consequently, they were arraigned and they all pleaded not guilty to the charge.

Prosecution counsel, Simeon Eze called two witnesses- ASP Godspower Owuzo and DSP Ekeleme Chidobe, then tendered six exhibits, including the document from the Corporate Affairs Commission.

But E.E. Anosike leading S.P.C. Nwokolo, Okoronkwo Uneke and S.A. Nwankwo, as defence counsels, averred that from the totality of evidence led by the prosecution to prove the case, “we respectfully submit that the prosecution has not made out prima facie case to warrant the defendants to enter their defence.”

Giving judgement on the matter, Chief Magistrate Mbah declared that the prosecution could not prove its case.

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