• Saturday, July 13, 2024
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We have no hand in trial, sentencing of LP House of Assembly candidate – Enugu PDP

Austin Nnamani

The People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Enugu State chapter, has denied the allegation by Labour Party (LP) in the state that PDP or the state government has a hand in the trial and sentencing of Bright Ngene.

Ngene was the LP candidate for Enugu South State Constituency 1 in the 2023 general election, who was last week convicted for conspiracy and stealing,

The Chairman of PDP in the state, Austin Nnamani called on the Labour Party to instead of talking against PDP and state government, should bow their heads in shame.

The National Working Committee of the LP had alleged that Ngene was convicted due to a pending rerun election between him and the PDP candidate.

In a press conference at the PDP state secretariat on Wednesday, the party’s State Working Committee led by Augustine Nnamani challenged the LP for “falsely alleging political witch hunt by the Enugu State Government in the trial and sentencing of Bright Ngene.”

The PDP explained that Ngene’s investigation, trial, and conviction were at the instance of his own people for the theft of N15.7m belonging to their community and wondered how it could have related to the 2023 House of Assembly contest.

“For the avoidance of doubt, and as the case file number (MEN/ 225C/2017) clearly indicates, this is a matter of conspiracy and stealing filed in the Enugu South Magisterial District of the Enugu State Magistrate Court against the 1st Defendant, Bright Ngene, and two others way back in 2017.

“Let it also be known that the Akwuke/Akwuke Uwani Communities lodged the complaint with the police. After a painstaking investigation, the Defendants, including Bright Ngene, were indicted and consequently arraigned before His Worship A. O. Eze on a two-count charge of conspiracy and stealing on 21st day August, 2017. The Defendants, however, pleaded not guilty to both counts and were granted bail.

“The prosecution opened their case on the next adjourned date, being 11th September, 2017, calling witnesses before closing their case.

Read also: Man regains freedom after 15 yrs in prison without trial

“Rather than marshal their defence, the Defendants initially made a no case submission. However, the court dismissed it and ordered them to commence their defence.

“Next, Bright Ngene wrote to the Chief Judge of Enugu State seeking the transfer of the matter from His Worship A. O. Eze to another court to start trial denovo (anew), a request the Chief Judge refused for lacking in merit.

“Ngene did not relent, as the matter was ultimately reassigned to His Worship E. D. Onwu, and the matter started denovo. The Prosecution called their witnesses, who testified afresh and were thoroughly cross-examined by the Defence. Ngene (1st Defendant) equally testified in person for himself and also called witnesses, who testified on his behalf before closing his case,” the PDP stated.

The party, therefore, underscored the fact that not only was the LP House of Assembly candidate charged at the instance of his people many years predating the 2023 election, but also that the delays in the trial “were mostly at the instance of Bight Ngene (1st Defendant), who kept applying to the Chief Judge for reassignment of the case and filing actions in the superior courts to stall the trial.

“So, rather than attempting to whip up unnecessary sentiments, intimidate and smear the judiciary, and blackmail the Enugu State Government, the LP should actually bow their heads in shame that in such a high profile and star-studded constituency with a proven history of men and women of integrity, outstanding political leaders, intellectuals, and technocrats, who have distinguished themselves in various fields of human endeavour, LP only found a man put on trial since 2017 by his own people for stealing their N15,750,000 as the most suitable candidate.

“Indeed, the fact that the court finally upheld the allegation of conspiracy and stealing against Ngene by his own people calls to question the votes he claimed to have obtained in the 2023 State House of Assembly.

“How could the same people he has now been confirmed by the court to have stolen from have given him their votes in the first place?” the PDP said.

The PDP advised LP and Ngene to exercise their right of appeal or “carry their self-laden cross instead of this attempt to run down the judiciary and blame others for their own self-inflicted woes.”