A Lagos State Chief Magistrate’s Court in Igbosere yesterday granted bail to Archbishop Samson Mustapha Benjamin of Resurrection Praise Chapel for allegedly violating the lockdown order imposed by President Muhammadu Buhari to check the spread of the Coronavirus pandemic.
Chief Magistrate O. O. Oshin admitted the cleric, popularly called Jehovah Sharp-Sharp, to bail after he pleaded not guilty to the three counts charge brought against him and two others, by the Lagos government.
The accused person was arraigned alongside two others: Jerry Abel and Johnson Benjamin.
They were all arrested on Tuesday, at the Chinese Embassy, where they had allegedly gone to protest the alleged ill-treatment melted out on Nigerians in China.
They were specifically accused of violating the lockdown directive and conduct themselves in a manner likely to cause the breach of public peace.
The cleric had in an earlier interview claimed that the Chinese were operating freely in Nigeria even though COVID-19 started in their country but decided to violate the rights of Nigerians and other Africans living in China.
Officials of the Chinese Embassy allegedly sent a video clip of the alleged invasion to the police, which prompted the arrest of the defendants by officers of the Victoria Island Division of the Nigeria Police.
The defendants were thereafter taken to the Force Criminal Investigation Department (CID) Panti, Yaba Lagos.
During proceedings on Wednesday, Dr Jide Martins, a Director in the Lagos State Directorate of Public Prosecution, told the court that the defendants had on April 21, led a protest to the Chinese Embassy located at No. 161A, Idejo St., Victoria Island Lagos.
Martins said the defendants’ actions contravened the COVID-19 Regulation and is punishable under Section 5 Quarantine Act and Section 122 of the Criminal Law of Lagos, 2015.
“The defendants conduct was also likely to cause breach of the peace which violates Section 168 of the Criminal Law of Lagos 2015,” he said.
Following their not guilty plea, their lawyer, E.O. Ogbeche urged the court to admit the accused persons to bail in the most liberal terms, he also assured the court of their presence till the matter is determined.
In her ruling, Chief Magistrate Oshin, granted Archbishop Samson bail in the sum of N1 million, while the other two violators were admitted to bail in the sum of N500, 000 each.
She also asked all the violators to provide two sureties in like sum.
The court directed that one of the sureties must be a Grade Level 14 officer in the appointment of Federal or Lagos State government, and that the other surety must be a cleric.
All the sureties are also ordered to produce evidence of three years tax payment to Lagos State government, evidence of means of livelihood and that they must be residents of the State.
The matter has been adjourned till May 20, for trial.