Justice Binta Nyako of the Federal High Court, Abuja has rejected a request by the Federal Government for the issuance of a bench warrant on Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu, who is accused of failing to declare his assets.
Ekweremadu is accused in a two-count charge filed on behalf of the Federal Government by the Special Presidential Investigation Panel for the Recovery of Public Property (SPIP) of refusing to declare his assets.
He is said to have refused “without reasonable excuse, upon the notice to declare his assets in the manner prescribed by the Special Presidential Investigation Panel for the Recovery of Public Property”.
Yesterday, lawyer for the prosecution, Celsus Ukpong, told the court that Ekweremadu has consistently refused to attend court despite being served with the charge filed on May 11, this year.
Ukpong added that Ekweremadu has also shunned the court despite being served with the court summons for his arraignment yesterday.
The lawyer said: “He Ekweremadu decided not to obey the summons. We therefore apply for a bench warrant to be issued against him.”
Ekweremadu’s lawyer Adegboyega Awomolo (SAN), however, urged the court to disregard Ukpong’s application for a bench warrant on his client.
Awomolo said Ekweremadu had, on November 1, 2018, challenged the competence of the charge and the court’s jurisdiction to hear the case through an application of objection.
He urged the court to first resolve the challenge to its jurisdiction and the competence of the charge before attending to the charge. He cited some authorities, including a recent decision by the Court of Appeal in Abuja, which explained the powers of the SPIP.