Suspects remanded in custody over alleged defamation, extortion of ex-VC

By Simon Utebor, Yenagoa

Five suspects have been remanded in custody for their alleged defamation and attempt to defraud Prof. Maureen Etebu, a former Vice-Chancellor of the Maritime University, Okerenkoko.

The Federal High Court sitting in Warri, Delta State, remanded the suspects arrested by the operatives of Zonal Headquarters of the Nigeria Police, Zone 5.

The names of the suspects were given as Dr. Vincent Akpoveta, Stanley Erobosa, Doboikiabo Warmate, Edgar Daniel Biu and Ibrahim Abubakar.

In the charge sheet presented in court, the accused were alleged to have in June 2020 sent an offensive and obscene mails to Prof. Maureen Etebu thereby committing offences punishable under Section 24(a)(b) of the Cybercrime Prohibition and Proclamation Act.

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“That in June 2020, they sent emails to Prof. Maureen Etebu in an attempt to extort N150m from her and another attempt in June 2020 to extort her of N200m. The offence is punishable by Section 24(2)(a)(b)(6)(1) and (1) of the Cybercrime Prohibition Act, 2015.”

The court ordered the suspects to be kept in police custody till February 3, 2021.

Before the adjourned sitting on Tuesday, the Presiding Judge, Justice Emeka Nwete, took the pleas from the suspects charged with eight counts of defamation, extortion and criminal conspiracy.

All the suspects pleaded not guilty to the charges.

The moves by lawyers for the accused: N. Trofaniowei for (4th respondent), Ray Enogeh (3rd respondent), N. Ohre (1st respondent), H.O Omyebuolose (3rd respondent) and P.O. Itsyeli, to convince the court to grant their clients bail, failed.

The Police Prosecuting counsel,  N. A Ukpebor, opposed the applications for bail, alleging that the accused might tamper with the prosecution witnesses and that the purported medical report tendered by the fourth and third accused were fake.

Ukpebor said the purported medical report was not a medical report affirming their state of health, noting that even the 4th accused (Edgar Biu) was not resident in the court’s division but stays in Abuja.

Justice Emeka Nwete in his ruling on the bail applications turned down the request of the accused and ordered them remanded in custody.