Court Frees 40 Okija Shrine Priests

A FEDERAL High Court sitting in Abuja yesterday granted bail to forty priests of Ogwugwu shrines (aka Okija shrine) who were arrested about four months ago by the police in Anambra state following discovery of scores of human remains in the grove.

Each accused person was admitted to temporary freedom in the sum N1million with one surety in like sum. The bail was granted yesterday following an application argued on their behalf by their lawyer,Chief J.O.J. Ukaga. The Okija priests specifically dragged the Inspector General of Police (IG-P), Mr Tafa Balogun ; the A. C. Monitoring Unit Force Headquarters (Mr. Yusuf) and the Attorney General of the Federation to court for the enforcement of their fundamental human rights.

The presiding judge in the case, Justice Stephen Adah who admitted them to their temporary freedom after listening to arguments in the case however ordered specifically that each of the sureties to be provided by the detainees must not only be resident within the jurisdiction of the court in Abuja but that they must also be personally certified by the prosecutor to be genuine and reliable.

Explaining why he considered their bail requests, Justice Adah cited section 35 and 36 of the 1999 Constitution to the effect that they were entitled to their fundamental human rights as enshrined in the constitution.

All the detainees, it would be recalled, were clamped into detention since August when the police made shocking discoveries of several human skulls and corpses at the infamous shrine.

But on October 25, this year, the suspects filed a motion on notice before the court asking that they be admitted to bail and that they should be released from detention since no charges had been brought against them.