Twenty students of the Kogi State Polytechnic have been remanded in prison custody by a Lokoja Magistrates Court over rioting and murder of a senior lecturer of the institution, Mr Nathaniel Abimaje.
During the court session yesterday, the police prosecutor, Samuel Ikutanwa, told the court that on April 19, the accused persons incited some unidentified students of the institution to riot over the setting up of a panel to look into the case of a student who was involved in examination malpractice.
He told the court that the accused persons were armed with dangerous weapons such as axes, guns and cutlasses. He further alleged that the students went on rampage and stabbed Abimaje severally.
“They were protesting the setting up of a panel to look into the case of examination malpractice. During the rampage, the accused beat and stabbed Abimaje severally and left him in a pool of his blood. The lecturer was rushed to the Specialist Hospital, Lokoja, but died before he could receive medical attention,” Ikutanwa said.
The prosecutor said investigation revealed that a long-standing dispute between Igala and Ebira students in the institution also fuelled the crisis. He urged the court to remand the accused in prison custody.
The accused persons who were charged with criminal conspiracy, inciting disturbance of public peace, rioting and culpable homicide, pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Counsel to the accused, J.E. Usman Esq. asked the court to exercise its discretion and grant the accused bail on the ground that an accused is presumed innocent until proven otherwise.
In his ruling Chief Magistrate Levi Animoku said the offence of culpable homicide which the accused were charged with carries death penalty under Section 221 of the Penal Code and was not bailable.
He said he had no discretion to exercise in the matter as the offence was a capital one, adding that Section 35(7)(a) of the 1999 constitution provides that presumption of innocence was not absolute, especially in a case of culpable homicide. Animoku ordered that the accused be remanded at Federal Prisons, Kabba, and adjourned the case to May 21 for further mention.