The western Nigerian state of Lagos has arraigned the President of Aguiyi i Ironsi Market popularly known as Ladipo Market in Lagos, Mr. Jonathan Chibuzor Okoli before an Ikeja High Court for attempted murder.
Jonathan Chibuzor Okoli in court yesterday
Jonathan Okoli was arraigned along side others still at large on a 12 count charge of attempting to kill five members of his market association during a protest in the market last year. The state alleged that Jonathan Okoli and others now at large on 5 March, 2012 while armed with guns and machetes attempted to kill Maduchukwu Ejike, Solomon Eze, Cyril Nwenu, Joseph Nnaji at Ladipo Market by inflicting grievous harms on them.
The state also alleged that the embattled market association president and some of his associates now at large unlawfully assembled at the market to act in disorderly manner and to disturb the public peace. Mr Okoli was also charged with extortion and unlawful display of arms in the market. He however pleaded not guilty to all the charges. In his application for bail, Okoli’s lawyer, Nnorom Quickers told the court that his client has been in detention since October last year without bail. He urged that the offence for which his client is been tried, is bailable. Nnorom also told the court that his client has earlier been exonerated of the crime for which he is been tried, by the office of Attorney General of the federation.
He added that Mr. Okoli was just been persecuted for refusing to sign a memorandum of understanding to step down as president of the market. Opposing the application for bail, Principal State Counsel, Mr. Femi Adamson told the court that granting the defendant bail, may further cause mayhem in the market. He urged that since the victims of the crime for which Mr. Okoli is been charged, are still members of the market, granting him bail may obstruct the cause of justice. Mr. Adamson also noted that the defendant has not put adequate evidence before the court to warrant his been granted bail. The presiding Judge, Justice Lateefah Okunnu has reserved ruling for bail later in the day. Hundreds of Mr. Okoli’s supporters were in court yesterday to show solidarity to their leader.