By Ade Adesomoju , Abuja
The Federal High Court in Abuja on Thursday turned down the request by the Federal Government to issue an arrest warrant against the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu .
The Special Presidential Investigation Panel for the Recovery of Public Property had, on behalf of the Federal Government , urged the court to order the arrest of Ekweremadu following the absence of the senator , who was scheduled to be arraigned on Wednesday on charges of non – declaration of assets .
The prosecuting counsel , Mr. Celcus Ukpong, informed the judge, Justice Binta Nyako, that two counts of failure to declare assets were filed against the senator on May 11, 2018 .
Ukpong said the summons for the arraignment scheduled for Wednesday had been served on the Deputy Senate President , but he chose to ignore it .
He said , “ He decided not to obey the summons . We , therefore , apply for a bench warrant to be issued against him . ”
But responding, Ekweremadu ’ s lawyer , Chief Adegboyega Awomolo (SAN) , urged the court to disregard the application for a bench warrant to be issued against his client .
He informed the court that his client had, on November 1 , 2018 , filed a motion challenging the competence of the charges and the jurisdiction of the court to entertain the case .
Awomolo argued that without first resolving the application , the matter could not proceed to stage of arraignment .
He cited some Supreme Court decisions to back his contention .
Ekweremadu ’ s properties targeted for interim forfeiture comprised nine in Abuja , two in London, eight in Dubai , and three in Florida , USA.
Following its findings on the allegedly undeclared assets , the panel , in May this year , filed two counts against Ekweremadu , alleging in one of the counts in the case marked FHC/ABJ /CR /62 /2018 , that upon notice to declare his assets in the manner prescribed by the SPIPRPP , the Deputy Senate President “ refused ” to make the declaration “ without reasonable excuse . ”
In the second count, the prosecution alleged that the defendant “ neglected to declare ” his assets “ 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” .
The alleged offences were said to be contrary to and punishable under Section 3 (3 )(1 )( a ) of the Recovery of Public Property (Special Provision) Act 2004.