A couple, Peter Eweka and his wife, Stella, were Thursday arraigned before a Federal High Court in Benin City for allegedly conspiring to collect N3 million from one Mrs Juliet Aimienrovbiye under a false pretence.
According to newsmen, they were arraigned on a four-count charge of obtaining money by false pretence, stealing and converting the money for personal use and converting another N200,000 for the same purpose.
The accused couple pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Mr F. B. Ojiezele, the counsel for the petitioner, requested for the immediate commencement of the trial following their not guilty plea.
Mr Zion Agbon, counsel to the defendant, objected to the request on the grounds that his clients had begun an out-of-court settlement of the money.
He told the court that the couple had already made two payments, adding that May 31 was slated for another payment to be made.
The presiding judge, Justice Adefunmilola Demi-Ajayi, at this point, questioned why the trial had to go on since settlement had commenced.
Counsel to the petitioner, however, told the court that his client did not inform him about the development.
He also called for the remand of the accused persons in prison custody, pending full payment and the determination of the substantive suit.
But counsel to the defendants while objecting to Ojiezele’s request, said that it would impede his clients’ efforts to make payment the next day.
He also informed the court that Stella was nursing a baby, allegedly suffering from sickle cell anaemia.
In determining the bail application, the judge sought to know whether the accused came from a royal family, pointing out that the name, Prince Eweka, implied a royal background.
Following an affirmation by the accused of his royal background, the judge directed them to produce a member of the royal family before the end of the day’s sitting to identify them in the presence of the assistant registrar of the court and in company of both counsels.
He said that failure to do so, they would be remanded in prison custody until June 13, when the trial would commence.