A former security adviser to the administration of Chief Timipre Sylva of Bayelsa state, Chief Perekeme Richard Kpodo, was, on Monday, remanded in prison custody for alleged rape by the the magistrate court sitting in Yenagoa, the Bayelsa state capital.
Kpodo, who is a vocal critic of the Governor Seriake Dickson administration and chieftain of the All Progressive Congress (APC) in Sagbama local government, was arraigned at the magistrate court 10 presided over by ET Empire-Ugwa on two count charges of unlawful detention and rape of one Teke Blessing.
According to the charge sheet, Kpodo was alleged to have detained Blessing on June 20, 2017 at Etegwe area of Yenagoa with an intent to defile her and thereby committed an offence punishable under section 155 of the criminal code.
On count two, Kpodo was said to have on the same day he allegedly detained the girl, raped her thereby committing an offence punishable under section 285 of the criminal code.
The accused person, who was in the dock, however, pleaded not guilty to the charges.
His lawyer, Julius Iyekoroghe, who was represented by Funlayeifa Seibokuru, quickly applied for the bail of Kpodo on grounds of sickness and personal recognition.
Seibokuru told the magistrate that the bail application was predicated on the fact that every accused person is presumed innocent until proven guilty.
He said Kpodo was hypertensive and suffered other sicknesses, appealing to the court to grant him bail.
Besides, he said the accused person was a known politician and businessman, who owned hotels and properties in the state.
“If granted bail, he won’t jump bail. We also have sureties that are also ready to take him on bail. The court should consider his ill health and his personality and grant him bail,” he said.
But the prosecution lawyer, Ayibatonye Jumbo, opposed the bail application, saying that being a politician and influential businessman, granting Kpodo bail could jeopardise the case.
“There is the likelihood of the accused person interfering with the witnesses of the prosecution. The court should also consider the prevalence of the offence on daily basis. Almost on a daily basis, crimes like rape occur. Some are not reported because of stigma of the victims,” Jumbo said.
Jumbo further deflated the argument of granting the accused person bail on the grounds of ill health insisting that the lawyer for the accused person failed to tender medical reports to prove his case.
He said: “The count one is misdemeanor, which is not a serious offence. But the second count is felony and a serious offence, which if he is convicted, he will be jailed for life. Based on this, we appeal to the court to reject the bail application.”
But his lawyer Iyekoroghe,who said the arrest of Kpodo and his arraignment were politically motivated, described the rape allegation as a trump-up charge.
He said the politician was being persecuted for criticizing the government, adding that the development was aimed at shutting him up.
“This is a democracy and the act of the police against some critical views by a politician is unacceptable and a violation of his right as a Nigerian. As at last night, he was still being detained without taking statement as the police are still desperately searching for case file,” he said.