By Damian Duruiheoma, Enugu
A Federal High Court sitting in Enugu yesterday discharged and acquitted one of the contestants for the Igweship throne of Akama-Oghe Community in Ezeagu Local Government Area of Enugu State, Chief Christian Akpata, over alleged unlawful possession of a firearm.
The community leader was arraigned for illegally possessing a pump-action gun with registration number P268884, seven live cartridges of ammunition and a fake firearm license on January 17, 2018.
In the case between Inspector-General of Police vs Chief Christian Akpata with a suit No FHC/EN/CR/38/2018, the prosecuting counsel, C. O Ugwu, of Nigeria Police Force had said the offence contravened Section 27 (1) (a) (i) of Firearms Act Cap F28 Laws of the Federation, 2004.
The prosecution counsel also fielded five witnesses to support his claims that the accused unlawfully possessed the items.
However, the defence counsel, Chief Ogochukwu Onyema felt that the evidence and witnesses fielded were not enough to warrant Akpata to enter into defence in the matter.
He subsequently filed a no-case submission, urging the court to discharge and acquit the defendant as, according to him, no court or tribunal can reasonably convict anyone on the evidence so far adduced by the five witnesses of the prosecution.
In her ruling after about two years, Justice Rosemary Dugbo-Oghoghorie, said she had not seen the reason the accused should enter into defence in the matter.
This, she added, was because the prosecution had not established any prima facie case against the accused to invalidate his claims that the firearm, ammunition and licence were genuine.
The judge, therefore, discharged and acquitted the accused of the alleged criminal offence and also ordered the release of the firearm, ammunition and licence to Chief Akpata with immediate effect.
Reacting to the judgment, the defence counsel, Onyema, applauded the judgment and appreciated the judge for her industry, courage and forthrightness over the case.
Onyema also appreciated the court for upholding justice on the matter.