By Martin Iyonguvihi
Four persons alleged to have invaded and destroyed properties and attacked students of Saint Mary’s Secondary School, Adikpo, over perceived land tussle were recently arraigned in court by the Benue police command for criminal conspiracy, criminal trespass, assault, intimidation, causing grievous hurt, mischief and theft.
The four defendants, Donald Ornguga, a builder aged 29-years; Andrew Ornguga, a carpenter also aged 29-years; Anna Andrew, a business lady aged 25-years and Priscilla Tyoutsa, aged 35-years, all of Tse-Agabi Mbaiwen, Adikpo, Kwande LGA of Benue State were arraigned before a Makurdi Chief Magistrate Court for contravening section 97, 349, 266, 398, 248, 329 and 288 of the Penal Code Law of Benue State 2004.
The Prosecutor, ASP Gbakor Hyacinth told the court that “the defendants on 15 March, 2021 were reported by the Vice Principal of St Mary’s Secondary School, Adikpo, one Baaki Gabriel Tyohemba, that on the same date at about 9:00am, the following persons;(1) Andrew Ornguga ‘m’, (2) Donald Ornguga ‘m’, (3) Priscillia Tyoutsa ‘f’ (4) Anna Andrew ‘f’ and many others all of Tse-Agabi Adikpo in Kwande conspired among themselves, armed with cutlasses, sticks, axes and stones and trespassed into St Mary’s Secondary School Adikpo, chanting war songs, marched to the school and attacked the female students who were on the school field clearing grasses preparatory for all secondary schools games and inflicted injuries of various degrees on the students and some of the staff of the school.
“The complainant further stated that they intimidated him that they will first of all kill the principal of the school and that she was lucky to have escaped from the school, they broke the school bus front windscreen and side glass, broke the glasses of the school building windows, destroyed the zinc and PVC ceiling as well as broke into the school science laboratory, damaged some of the science equipments and stole away one of the school microscope which is one of the destroyed properties, and the items are estimated at about three million naira (N3,000,000.00).”
The prosecutor further said during police investigations, the defendants were arrested and confessed to have committed the crime while the following persons; Mnyina Sunday ‘m’, Gbayior Mathew ‘m’, Denen Asam ‘m’, Terfa Mathew ‘m’, Iornumbe Mathew ‘m’, Akombur Utsa ‘m’, Iorver Aondohemba ‘m’, Iorver Junior ‘m’, Sughter Agabi ‘m’, and many others are now at large.
When the case came up in court, all the defendants pleaded not guilty while the first defendants, Donald Ornguga told the court that they only went to the school premises to rescue a goat belonging to them that was confiscated by the school authority for trespassing.
However, the Prosecutor asked for an adjournment to complete investigation in the case, while counsel to the four defendants, Dr Matthew Atonko said he didn’t oppose application for a new date but will be applying for bail of the defendants pursuant to section 162 and 166 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act of Benue state, 2019 and section 36 (5) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended.
He submitted that the accused persons are presumed innocent until proven otherwise by the prosecution, and appealed to the court to exercise its discretion in granting bail, adding that the 1st and 2nd defendants have been brutally tortured by the police during interrogation while the 4th defendant is pregnant at the moment.
The Magistrate, Mr V.T Kor Esq granted bail to all the defendants in the sum of N300, 000 one common surety to the like sum. The surety shall deposit the evidence of landed property to the registrar of the court before bail will be approved.
Reacting to the ruling, Mr Baaki Gabriel, the vice principal said the court has exercised its discretion in granting bail to the defendants but nevertheless, it was not true that the defendants were in the school to rescue their goat but rather it was over land tussle on which the school is situated.