THE 76 Ugwuleshi people in Awgu Community, Enugu State, detained at the Umuahia Prisons, were yesterday granted bailed by the Magistrate Courts, Umuahia, Abia State.
They were arrested by soldiers for protesting the alleged abduction of two of their women by Fulani herdsmen and hurriedly charged with arson and illegal possession of arms and clamped into the prison for two weeks.
Following public outcry and condemnation, they were arraigned in Court yesterday in two Magistrate Courts on a five count charge bordering on arson and illegal possession of dangerous weapons, and burning down 90 houses at Obinwanne Fulani Community Settlement in Umunneochi. When the charges were read to them, they pleaded not guilty.
The presiding Magistrate granted them bail in the sum of N200,000 each with five sureties who must be resident in Umuahia or Umunneochi. Alternatively, the traditional ruler of the community would sign with two other prominent persons who are resident in Umuahia or Umunneochi.
Their bail conditions were perfected at about 4.47pm, prompting them to erupt in jubilation in the court premises for breathing air of freedom after two weeks of imprisonment. The matter was adjourned to April 29, 2016 for trial. Reacting to the development, the traditional ruler of the Community, Igwe Godwin Nwobi expressed happiness that his people have been granted bail, saying “at least I can now sleep”.
The monarch has been in Umuahia for three days, trying to effect the release of the people. Also the law maker representing them in the Enugu State House of Assembly, Mr. Nelson Ogunji said he was happy that his constituents have been granted bail, just as he lamented their arrest in the first place.