Court strikes out criminal charges against Ekweremadu

The Federal High Court sitting in Abuja on Monday struck out the criminal charge filed by the defunct  Special Presidential Investigation Panel on Recovery of Public Property against the former deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu for lack of diligent prosecution.

The defunct panel had brought the charges against Ekweremadu over alleged false assets declaration on May 11, 2018.

The Federal Government disbanded the Special Presidential Investigation Panel on the Recovery of Public Property late last year and handed all cases being handled by it to the office of Attorney General of the Federation (AGF).

Though a counsel from the office of the AGF, Mr Pius Akuta announced appearance, on Monday when the matter came up, the trial judge, Justice  Binta Nyako ruled that the prosecution is at liberty to refile the charge when they are ready.

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Justice Nyako said, if the Attorney General of Federation (AGF) had difficulties taking over the prosecution of the criminal case against the former deputy Senate President, the AGF knows what to do.

She said that the Court would not make any order against the defunct panel or on an individual over the case file which the prosecution counsel said they have difficulty retrieving.

Akuta had earlier in his submission, opposed the motion by the defendant’s counsel, Chief  Adegbeya Awomolo (SAN)  that the charge be struck out for lack of diligent prosecution.

He also opposed to an indefinite adjournment but prefers a short adjournment, although he was not in possession of the case file.

Earlier when the matter was called, Chief Awomolo insisted that his objection to the competent of the charge and jurisdiction of the Court should be determined first.

But, Justice Nyako declined the request by the defendant’s counsel and added that, until she is seized of the criminal matter and the defendant – Ekweremadu is in the dock and counsel announced appearance, the court would not take a step on the matter.

It would be recalled that the Chief Okoi Obla led Special Presidential Investigation Panel on Recovery of Public Property had in May 2018 charged Senator Ekweremadu for false declaration of assets.

Meanwhile, the two other consolidated suits dealing with the forfeiture of Senator Ekweremadu’s 22 properties have been adjourned to April 28, 2020.

Justice Nyako refused the defendant’s counsel application seeking to strike out the suit.

She said that the consolidated suits were for mention.

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