On Thursday, a Magistrates’ court in Owerri, Imo State, ordered that the former deputy governor of the state, Gerald Irona, be remanded in prison custody. This development came after the prosecution counsel and defence counsel presented their arguments to the presiding magistrate, C. N Ezerioha.
During the court proceedings, Irona’s counsel, S. I Imo, moved a motion for his bail on self-recognition. He argued that if the ex-deputy governor could not be granted bail on self-recognition, a state lawmaker, Frank Ugboma, representing Oguta State constituency was willing to take him on bail.
However, the lead prosecutor, Sunday Ogbuji, opposed the bail application, citing the felony charge preferred against Irona. Ogbuji stated that only a judge of a high court could grant Irona bail.
The magistrate, after hearing from both parties, ordered that Irona be remanded in Owerri correctional centre. She also noted that the court lacked the jurisdiction to hear the matter, and therefore, the case file should be transferred to the Department of Public Prosecution.
The charges leveled against Irona include conspiracy to commit felony, making utterances with intent to intimidate or overawe the governor of Imo State, and converting Imo State Government’s property to his own use.
Irona’s defence counsel, Kissinger Ikeokwu, who is also the Legal Adviser of the Peoples Democratic Party, expressed optimism that Irona would be granted bail at the high court. Ikeokwu described Irona’s ordeal as politically motivated.
Irona served as the deputy governor of Imo State between May 29, 2019, and January 14, 2020. His arrest by the police at his Owerri residence on Wednesday has been described by the state chapter of the PDP as a plot to assassinate the immediate past deputy governor.