By CrossRiverWatch admin
A High Court of Cross River State sitting in Calabar and presided over by the Honorable Justice Michael Edem, has remanded 14 dismissed police officers in police custody pending ruling on a contentious bail application by the defence lawyers.
The dismissed officers are standing trial in Charge No. HC/2C/2016 for the murder of one Derek Maurice Ben and 5 others who were killed extra-judicially by the police last year.
The trial which came up yesterday 8th February, 2016, witnessed a contentious bail application by the legal counsel to the accused persons urging the court to admit the dismissed officers to bail pending their trial.
The defence lawyers predicated their application on a legal opinion earlier written by the State Director of Public Prosecution which exonerated the accused persons and also the fact that the accused had been in prolonged detention without trial.
But the prosecution counsel keenly and vigorously opposed the bail application saying that the legal advice for which the defence predicated their application had long been reviewed by the Honorable Attorney General based on new facts that emerged from further investigation into the matter.
He also reminded the court that though bail is at the discretion of the Court, the accused are standing trial for a capital offence and therefore bail cannot be granted as a matter of course.
He finally drew the attention of the Court to the fact that the accused persons were already having a field day as shortly before court sitting yesterday, they openly identified one of the named witnesses in the case and ordered a Court duty police officer to search him.
The learned prosecutor therefore submitted that if the accused persons are admitted to bail, they will pose a potential threat to witnesses and other persons who may not have been favourably disposed to the case of the defence.
However in a brief comment, the presiding Judge stated that he cannot take notice of what did not take place in his presence.
In a short ruling, the learned Justice adjourned the case to Monday 15th February, 2016 for ruling on the bail application.
He further granted the request of the defence lawyers that the accused persons be remanded in police custody instead of the Afokang Prisons.
Members of the public have continued to express their worry and concern as to why the accused persons are sent to their former colleagues at the State Police Headquarters for custody, rather than the usual Afokang Prisons were awaiting trial inmates are kept.
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