This followed the decision of Justice T. S. Oji, who “washed her hands off the case”.
Justice Oji’s decided to return the case file to the Chief Judge when she noticed that of the 11 accused persons, Ikechukwu Louis Amadi, the third accused, did not have a lawyer to defend him.
Ugonna Obuzor, Lloyd Toku Mike, Tekenah Elkanah and Chiadika Biringa were accused of robbery and set ablaze by suspected members of the community.
The Director of Public Prosecution, I. Otorubio, who led the prosecution and other lawyers, announced their appearance, but no counsel appeared for the third accused.
Dissatisfied with this development, the judge said she would rather return the case to the Chief Judge than try it because she would not take sides in the matter.
“It is safer to send the matter back to the Chief Judge for re-assignment than favour any party in this matter,” she said adding that her hands were tied in the case because she had a close relationship with the two (the accused persons and victims) parties in the matter.
The accused are Lawal Segun, Ex-Sergeant Lucky Orji, Ikechukwu Louis Amadi, David Chinasa Ogbada, Abiodun Yusuf, Joshua Ekpe, Abang Cyril, Alhaji Hassan Welewa, Okoghiroh Endurance, Ozioma Abajuo and Chigozie Evans Samuel.
Justice Oji said: “The accused persons I know. The victims I know. My hands are tied in this matter. I am sitting between the devil and the deep blue sea.”
She also said her decision to return the case to the Chief Judge was not because she lacked the competence to handle the matter, but because of its sensitive nature.
The judge added that the case has received widespread publicity and attracted attention and therefore, the image of the judiciary should be protected.
She expressed confidence in the judiciary to try every case, stressing that the vital point in this Aluu case was not that justice will be done, but it must be seen to have been done.
“I will not satisfy anybody. Justice must not only be done, it must be seen to have been done. The Rivers State Judiciary has very capable hands to try all matters,” she stated.
The case had been at the Port Harcourt Magistrate Court, but due to the fact that it lacked jurisdiction to try the matter, it was transferred to the High Court, where it suffered a setback yesterday.