An Abuja federal high court has refused to issue a bench warrant for the arrest of the deputy senate president, Ike Ekweremadu, over his absence at the hearing of his asset declaration case.
The judge, Binta Nyako, declined to issue the warrant, pointing out 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 the deputy senate president 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 filed against him on May 11.
However, the defendant’s lawyer, Adegboyega Awomolo, objected to the request for the bench warrant, saying that Ekweremadu’s presence 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.
She adjourned the case till February 26, 2019, for hearing.
The presidential panel claims that Ekweremadu refused to declare his assets in a manner it prescribed for him, accusing the defendant of ignoring invitations to “clarify issues in the allegation of excessive wealth or suspicious assets”.
Reacting, Ekweremadu said that he is not required by law to declare his assets to the panel.