A magistrate court in Owerri, Imo State capital, on Monday remanded in custody at least 112 women members of the proscribed Independent People of Biafra (IPOB).
The women, who were arraigned on eight counts of charges, were arrested in Owerri by the police on Friday while they were protesting and demanding that the federal government produce its leader, Nnamdi Kanu.
The women claimed that the security agencies knew the whereabouts of Mr Kanu who has been out of public view since he had an encounter with the military in Umuahia about a year ago.
Two of the women, including a pregnant one, slumped and were rushed to an undisclosed hospital before the commencement of the court sitting, according to a report by Punch Newspaper.
The development caused the police prosecutor to remove them from the charge sheet and informed the court that they would be arraigned when they regain consciousness.
“That on August 17, 2018, within the Owerri magisterial district, with intent to carry out some common purpose, assembled in such a manner as to cause persons in the neighbourhood to fear on reasonable grounds that the persons so assembled will tumultuously disturb the peace and thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 70 of the Criminal Code,” the charge sheet read in part.
“That you conspired with others now at large to commit misdemeanour: to with conduct likely to cause a breach of peace and thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 517 of the Criminal Code.
“That you and others now at large did in a public place, conduct yourselves in a manner likely to cause a breach of the peace by unlawfully obstructing the flow of traffic and other business and thereby committed an offence punishable under section 249 (d) of the Criminal Code Act.
“That you did, assemble yourselves together and publicly exhibited banners, emblems, flags or symbols of Indigenous people of Biafra and thereby committed an offence punishable under section 88(b) of the Criminal Code.
“That you conspired with others now at large to commit felony to wit treasonable felony and thereby committed an offence punishable under section 516 of the Criminal Code,” it added.
The women pleaded not guilty to the charges but the magistrate, S.K. Durumba, refused to grant them bail.
The case was adjourned until September 3 for legal advice by the attorney general of the state.
According to the magistrate, her court had no jurisdiction to entertain the matter.
Mr Kanu is wanted by the Nigerian government for alleged treason. He has not been seen in public since September 2017 when the army raided his residence in Abia State.
Since then, Mr Kanu’s whereabouts has remained unknown.
While the army denies knowing his whereabouts, Mr Kanu’s lawyer, Ifeanyi Ejiofor, insists his client was kidnapped by the military after the clash.
While the federal government proscribed IPOB and labelled it a terrorist organisation in the wake of the clash, the U.S. government, however, said it does not see IPOB as a terrorist organisation, a position described as ‘unfortunate’ by the Nigerian government.