Court remands five persons in prison over defamation, attempted extortion of VC

The Federal High Court sitting in Warri, Delta State has remanded five persons in police custody over alleged involvement in the defamation and attempted extortion of Prof. Maureen Etebu, former Vice Chancellor of the Maritime University, Okerenkoko.

The five persons, Dr. Vincent Akpoveta, Stanley Erobosa, Doboikiabo Warmate, Edgar Daniel Biu and Ibrahim Abubakar, were arrested by the operatives of Zonal Headquarters of the Nigeria Police, Zone 5.

In the charge sheet presented in court, the accused were alleged to have in June 2020 sent offensive and obscene mails to Prof. Maureen Etebu thereby committing offences punishable under Section 24(a)(b) of the Cybercrime Prohibition and Proclamation Act. 

“That in June 2020, they sent emails to Prof. Maureen Etebu with attempt to extort N150m from her and another attempt in June 2020 to extort the sum of N200m punishable by Section 24(2)(a)(b)(6)(1) and (1) of the Cybercrime Prohibition Act, 2015.”

The court ordered the suspects to be kept in police custody till February 3, 2021.

Before the adjourned sitting, the Presiding Judge, Justice Emeka Nwete, took the pleas from the five suspects charged with eight counts of defamation, extortion and criminal conspiracy. 

All the suspects pleaded not guilty to the charges. Only Edgar Biu, who is the 4th accused, was mentioned in all the eight counts. 

The moves by lawyers for the accused: N. Trofaniowei for (4th respondent), Ray Enogeh (3rd respondent), N. Ohre (1st respondent), H.O Omyebuolose (3rd respondent) and P.O. Itsyeli, to convince the court to grant their clients was abortive.

The Police Prosecuting counsel, N. A. Ukpebor, opposed the applications for bail, alleging that the accused might tamper with the prosecuting witnesses and that the purported medical reports tendered by the fourth and third accused were fake. 

Justice Emeka Nwete in his rulling on the bail applications turned down the request of the accused and ordered them remanded in custody.