Justice Chuka Obiozor of the Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos, on Friday, January 19, 2018, refused a plea by a former governor of Enugu State, Chimaroke Nnamani, to vacate the bench warrant issued against him over an alleged N5.3billion fraud.
Nnamani, his former aide, Sunday Anyaogu, and six companies was first arraigned in 2007 for allegedly conspiring to divert about N5.3bn from the coffers of Enugu State.
The case, which had been handled by no fewer than three judges, was in December 2017 transferred to Justice Obiozor, who fixed December 4, 2017 for the re-arraignment of the defendants.
The judge, however, issued a bench warrant for the arrest of Nnamani and Anyaogu for their failure to appear in court at the last adjourned date.
At today’s sitting, Justice Obiozor, in refusing Nnamani’s prayer moved by his lawyer, Rickey Tarfa, SAN, held that “The request for an order to discharge the bench warrant against the first defendant before me, for now, is hereby refused. This is without prejudice to the renewal of the application at the next adjourned date.”
The judge also struck out an application filed by Tarfa, challenging the court’s jurisdiction and seeking a perpetual injunction to restrain the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, from arresting his client, after he (Tarfa) had asked to withdraw same.
Tarfa had contended that there was no valid charge against his client before the court, after he had earlier withdrawn the application.
He told the court that a plea bargain had been entered in the case, leading to the conviction of the 3rd to 8th defendants.
However, in his response, the prosecuting counsel, Kelvin Uzozie, told the court that, though there was a plea bargain in respect of the 3rd to 8th defendants, the case of Nnamani and Anyaogu, who were joined as first and second defendants, had yet to be concluded.
“We are working on an amendment of the charge to reflect the proper situation. We will ask the court to indulge us by way of an adjournment to bring a clean copy of the charge sheet,” Uzozie added.
Justice Obiozor granted the application for adjournment, as the defence counsel did not oppose it.
Consequently, Justice Obiozor adjourned to February 20, 2018.