The Akwa Ibom State Government on Wednesday charged Nollywood actor, Moses Armstrong with rape, intimidation, conspiracy and supplying of drugs or instruments to procure abortion. The four charges were read to Mr Armstrong in a State High Court in Uyo for the first time since he was first arrested on June 13, defense counsel, Emmanuel Pantaleon, told Easterner Wednesday. Mr Armstrong, a former aide to Governor Udom Emmanuel, reportedly pleaded not guilty to the charges. Mr Pantaleon drew the court’s attention to his bail application filed on behalf of his client July 25 and sought the leave of the court to proceed to entertain it.
The prosecution, I.U. Robert, an assistant state counsel, while opposing bail application, cited relevant judicial authorities and urged the court to dismiss the application which he described as an “abuse of court process.”
The Judge, Ntong Ntong, after hearing submissions from both counsels upheld the defense counsel application and granted bail to Mr Armstrong in the sum of N5 million. A Magistrate Court Judge, Moreen Udoka had last month struck out the case for lack of jurisdiction after she was briefed by the prosecution that the case has been entered at a High Court in the state. Mr Armstrong is being prosecuted for allegedly raping a minor – a teenage girl he adopted and has been leaving with his (Mr Armstrong’s) family. The movie actor was first arraigned before a Magistrate Court in Uyo on June 17 but the case was struck out after the Magistrate, Samuel Ukoima, ruled that the matter was not properly filed.
The Magistrate had advised the prosecution to rearrest the suspect, take him to cell and re-arraigned him properly. Mr Armstrong was suspended by the Actors Guild of Nigeria following the rape allegation. The Akwa Ibom State-born actor, who started his career 23 years ago, lost his wife, Rita, in 2018. The mother-of-two was returning to her husband’s residence in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State from Lagos when the bus she was traveling in had an accident at the Ugbogui axis of Benin Ore Lagos Expressway. Rita, a Nollywood actress, died from spinal injuries sustained during the accident.