By Jethro Ibileke
For allegedly publishing fake news about Edo University, Iyamho, on his facebook account, a 59-year-old lawyer, Ogedengbe Oiseoruemi Ayodeji, was on Friday arraigned before an Oredo Magistrates’ Court.
Oiseoruemi was arraigned on a four-count charge punishable under sections 517,375, 517 and 59(1) of the criminal code of the defunct Bendel state, also applicable in Edo State.
He pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Earlier, the prosecuting counsel, Thomas Ojo, told the court that on June 22, 2019, the accused and others now at large, unlawfully published a defamatory matter on his Facebook account with the name Ogedengbe Oisoruemi Ayodeji Uduanghe, titled press statement Friday 21, June 2019, ‘NUC revokes Edo University Iyamho, operating licences,’ with the intent to injured the reputation of Edo University, Iyamho.
The charge sheet reads in part; “That you and others now at large, did conspired among yourselves to publish fake news with intent to cause fear and alarm to the public, thereby committing the offence punishable under section 517 of the Criminal Code.”
The defense team, led by Peter Uwadiae, pleaded with the court to grant bail to the accused on self-recognition.
Uwadiae, who led 27 other lawyers in defence of the accused, told the court that the accused is a legal practitioner and would not jump bail if granted.
He added that the Benin Branch of the Nigeria Bar Association will ensure that he attend trial.
The presiding Magistrate, I .U. Iyoha, granted the accused bail on self recognition.
He adjourned the case till September 3, 2019 for continuation of hearing.
Speaking with journalists at the court, the Public Relations Officer of Edo University, Iyamho, Betcher Ekhosihun, reaffirmed that the institution is owned by Edo State Government.
He noted that the institution did not need an operating license but recongnition by the National University Commission.
He, however, cautioned people against publishing fake and unverified news on social media as the law would definitely catch up with them.