Outrage as Police arraign 58 suspected cultists in Bayelsa

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It was gathered that the police arraignment of 58 suspected cultists before the Bayelsa State High Court sitting in Yenagoa has stirred controversy.

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The police had on Friday arraigned the suspects on two counts of conspiracy and membership of a cult group in the state.

No fewer than 106 suspects, including four minors, were allegedly arrested by the police last week during a raid of some blackspots in the state capital. However, 58 of them were charged to court.

The presiding Judge, Justice Naiyi Aganaba, in his ruling on bail application after listening to the arguments of defendants’ lawyers and the concession by the police prosecution counsel, James Amate, granted bail to the suspects in the sum of N100,000 each.

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Aganaba also ruled that the suspects must show proof of innocence and non-membership of the secret cult.

The judge also said that surety that would sign the bail bond must be a senior civil servant from Grade Level 7 and above, who must be resident in Yenagoa.

Justice Aganaba adjourned the case until October 20, 2016 for further hearing.

Meanwhile, angry parents of the arraigned suspects staged a peaceful protest outside the court premises.

They alleged that those arraigned were illegally arrested and innocent of the charges brought against them in the court.

A parent, who identified himself simply as Kelvin, said his son was arrested a few metres away from their home while on errand to buy some bread for the family.

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“When I accosted the policemen after I heard a scream for help by my son, they threatened to shoot me. They asked me what my son was doing outside after 8pm,” Kelvin claimed.

A woman, who claimed to be wife of one of the suspects, said his husband was arrested a few minutes after concluding their new-born baby’s dedication at home.

The woman, who craved anonymity, said, “He (my husband) was seeing a guest to the bus stop when he was arrested.

“All pleas and explanation fell on deaf ears. How do I get money to bail him? We have spent much money on hospital bills for baby’s delivery and dedication.”

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Some members of Hausa community in Yenagoa also protested outside the premises of the court.

They claimed that over 32 Hausa persons were arrested, but 12 were arraigned in court including four underaged boys.

They said their arrested kinsmen were commercial tricyclists, popularly known as Keke NAPEP, and not cultists.

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