APGA factional National Chairman, Alhaji Sadeeq Masalla
By Tobi Soniyi
An Abuja High Court Wednesday directed the Inspector General of Police (IG) to arrest and produce the self acclaimed factional National Chairman of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Alhaji Sadeeq Masalla, before it on December 3.
Masalla was charged with on 11 offences including forging the signatures of some members of the National Working Committee of the party.
He, however, did not appear in court to take his plea.
Justice Peter Kekemeke had on November 13 granted leave to the IG to arraign Masalla on the said charges.
The leave was granted following an application brought by police prosecutor, Mr Frances Irabor in charge number CR/36/12 between the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) versus Alhaji Sadeeq Ibrahim Masalla.
At the resumed hearing of the matter, Irabor told the court that Masalla had jumped the administrative bail granted by the police and has been evading arrest.
The prosecutor said: “My lord today is for the arraignment of the suspect but unfortunately he is not in court, about four policemen made frantic and several efforts to produce him in court but without success. In fact all his cell phones are switched off, his house known address which he gave as his last address as part of the conditions for the administrative bail was visited but there was nobody there anymore.
“The police met a big padlock at the gate. It seems that the suspect has jumped the administrative bail that the police admitted him to see Section 154(1) of the CPC which says that a court can issue summons or bench warrant to compel the attendance of a suspect to his trial. I humbly apply for the court to give an adjournment to enable us produce him and grant the applicant for a bench warrant for his arrested.”
However, counsel to the Suspect, Tochukwu Onwubufor (SAN) in objecting to the application for a bench warrant, urged the court to discountenance the application on the grounds that it was too early for the court to issue a warrant without first summoning the suspect.
He stated: “The court should summon the suspect first and that it is only when he fails to appear that the court can then issue a warrant particularly even if the suspect was in court today the arraignment cannot hold as I have a motion challenging the jurisdiction which the court ought to dispose off as it bothers on jurisdiction before going ahead with the arraignment.”
Justice Kekemeke in his ruling, said: “The motion for objection challenging the jurisdiction of the court is not ripe for hearing as according to the prosecution was just served in court this morning.
“Although I have carefully looked at the arguments and I refuse to grant such a warrant as the police know what to do you granted him administrative bail on self recognition. I gave an order that you produce him in court and you did not do that.
“You know how to get him you don’t have to come to court to ask for a warrant it is after his arrest and arraignment that the court can decide to sanction an accused person who does not comply with conditions given by the court for his bail. When he becomes the property of the court after his arraignment and he fails to attend trial then the court would compel his attendance for his trail.”
In adjourning the matter to December 3, he directed the police to produce him on or by the adjourned date.
He also berated Onwgbufor for falling to produce his client in court as according to him “as a minister in the temple of justice you ought to ensure that your client is in court.”