Edo state: Judge insists on verifying suspects’ claim to royalty
Edo state: Judge insists on verifying suspects’ claim to royalty
Edo state: Judge insists on verifying suspects’ claim to royalty
There was a mild drama at the Federal High Court, Benin, on Thursday, as a trial judge ordered a couple to produce a member of the Benin royal family to prove their claim to royalty or be remanded in prison custody.

Prince Peter Eweka and his wife, Stella, had been arraigned before Justice A. A. Demi-Ajayi on four counts bordering on conspiracy to obtain money under false pretences.

They were alleged to have obtained the sum of N3m from one Mrs Juliet Aimienrovbiye by false pretences and converting the amount as well as another N200,000 to their personal use.

The couple, however, pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Following their not guilty plea, counsel for the petitioner, Mr F. B. Ojiezele, requested that the trial should commence immediately.

Counsel for the defendants, Mr Zion Agbon, however, objected to the commencement of trial on the ground that his client had initiated an out-of-court settlement.

He told the court that the couple had already made two payments and that May 31 was the date for another payment.

At this information, Justice Demi-Ajayi asked why the case should go on trial if settlement had commenced.

Counsel for the petitioner, however, told the court that his client did not inform him of the development.

Ojiezele nonetheless called for the remand of the accused persons in prison custody pending full payment and the determination of the substantive suit.

Agbon, however, objected to the remand request, saying that it would impede his clients’ ability to make payment the next day.

He also informed the court that Stella was nursing a baby with sickle cell anaemia.

In determining the bail application, the judge requested to know if the man was of the royal familyas the name, Prince Eweka, suggested.

Following affirmation by the accused, Justice Demi-Ajayi directed the suspects to produce a member of the royal family before the end of the day’s sitting to identify them in the presence of the assistant registrar of the court and in company with both counsel.

He said failure to produce a member of the royal family would mean that the couple would be remanded in prison custody till June 13, 2019, for the commencement of trial.

A member of Benin royal family produced by the accused persons was rejected by the court registrar and counsel to the petitioner.

As of the time of filing this report, the accused persons had yet to meet their bail condition.

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