The federal high court in Abuja has declined to issue a bench warrant for the arrest of Ike Ekweremadu, deputy senate president, over his absence at the hearing of his asset declaration case.
Binta Nyako, the judge, declined to issue the warrant, noting that Ekweremadu was already challenging the jurisdiction of the court and validity of the charge against him.
The special presidential investigative panel for the recovery of public assets had through Celsius Ukpong, its lawyer, applied for a bench warrant for the arrest of Ekweremadu to compel his attendance in court.
Ukpong told the judge that the lawmaker ought to be in court physically in connection with the criminal charge instituted against him on May 11.
Adegboyega Awomolo, the defendant’s lawyer, objected to the request for the bench warrant, saying the presence of Ekweremadu in court was not necessary until the issue of jurisdiction and competency of the charge have been resolved.
In a short ruling, Nyako held that there was no need to issue a bench warrant.
Thereafter, she adjourned the case till February 26, 2019, to hear Ekweremadu’s preliminary objections to his trial.
The presidential panel claims that Ekweremadu refused to declare his assets in a manner it prescribed for him.
It alleged that the defendant ignored invitations to “clarify issues in the allegation of excessive wealth or suspicious assets”.
Ekweremadu had replied that he is not obligated by law to declare his assets to the panel.