Three farmers Doose Iornumbe, Emmanuel Terzungwe and Tertese Terzungwe, on Friday appeared before a Makurdi Chief Magistrates’ Court over the alleged killing of a seven-year-old girl, Msughshima Toryima.

The defendants, who all reside at Zaki-Biam in Ukum Local Government Area of Benue, are facing charges of criminal conspiracy, causing mischief by fire and culpable homicide.

The Prosecutor, Sgt. Jonah Uleru, told the court that one Levi Ianna of Tse-Ayom village in Ukum Local Government Area had reported the matter at the Zaki-Biam Police Station on Dec. 27, 2021.

The prosecutor said the complainant informed the police that on Dec. 26, 2021, Iornumbe took his seven-year-old granddaughter to Jootar town to visit her ex-husband, Emmanuel.

He stated that on reaching there, Emmanuel’s second wife, Tertese locked up the child in the room and the three went for a party within Jootar town.

Uleru said that while the defendants were at the party, the house was razed by fire and Levi Ianna’s granddaughter was burnt to death in the fire.

The prosecutor said that the police after its investigation arrested the three defendants over the alleged crime.

He said that the offences committed contravened Sections 97, 337 and 222 of the Penal Code Laws of Benue, 2004.

The prosecutor informed the court that investigation into the matter was ongoing and asked for an adjournment.

The court, however, did not take the pleas of the defendants for lack of jurisdiction over the matter.

Counsel to the defendants, Mr B.E. Eyibio applied for the bail of the defendants pursuant to Section 35(6) of the 1999 Constitution as amended.

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Eyibio said that though the charges against the defendants were capital in nature and not ordinarily bailable, but the facts of the case were unique.

He argued that the circumstances surrounding the first information report required more inquiry to establish whether the inferno was an accident or an act of mischief, since the defendants were away when the fire incident occurred.

The defendants’ counsel also informed the court that the wife of Emmanuel was heavily pregnant and was likely to give birth in a few days and needed the support of her husband during delivery.

He promised that the defendants would not jump bail.

Delivering his ruling, the Chief Magistrate, Mr. Vincent Kor, agreed with the defendants’ counsel that deeper inquiry need to be carried out to establish whether the inferno was an accident or due to mischief.

Kor granted bail to the defendants in the sum of N300,000 each and a surety each in the same amount.

He adjourned the matter until April 11, for further mention. (NAN)