*Refers lawyers to NBA for sanction
Alex Enumah in Abuja
Justice John Tsoho of the Federal High Court, Abuja, on Monday issued a bench warrant for the arrest of the self -acclaimed United Kingdom based private investigator, Victor Uwajeh, who is facing criminal charges before the court.
Justice Tsoho issued the bench warrant following Uwajehâ€™s failure to appear in court for the fourth consecutive time for his arraignment on the criminal charges preferred against him by the federal government.
The judge also did not spear Uwajehâ€™s lawyers as he referred two of them (Edward Omarga and Amushi Nnamani-Nwankwo) to the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee, (LPDC) of the Nigeria Bar Association, (NBA) for sanction over their conduct in the matter which according to the court is unbecoming as legal practitioners.
The federal government had slammed a four-count criminal charge bordering on forgery, impersonation, fraud and illegally procuring forged documents against Uwajeh.
Uwajeh was said to have been indicted by an investigation of a crack team from the Nigerian Police Force conducted on a petition that was written to the Inspector General of Police, IG, Mr. Ibrahim Idris.
In the petition, Uwajeh was accused of attempting to use forged and illegally procured documents to extort money from members of the public.
He had also evaded several attempts to be served by the court bailiff prompting the court decision to issue a bench warrant against him.
Meanwhile, the judge while delivering his ruling on an application by the prosecution to issue a bench warrant against Uwajeh, held that since the defendant was aware of the Criminal charges pending against him through the filing of his bail application by his lawyer, his refusal to appear before the court constituted an affront to the authority of the court.
Tsoho said, Omarga and Nwankwo had appeared in the matter in the previous proceedings only for a new lawyer to purportedly appear in the matter at yesterdayâ€™s sitting on behalf of Uwajeh with a request that raised questions.
He held that section 348(8) of the ACJA compels lawyers in a matter to give a three daysâ€™ notice prior from withdrawing from a suit but there was no such notice from Uwajeh lawyer.
In ordering for his arrest, Justice Tsoho held that, â€œthe defendant has still not shown up in court. This constitute an affront by the defendant to the authority of this court and renders him liable to an order of arrest pursuant to Section 83(1)(b) 131 and 352(1)(a)of the ACJA,2015.
â€œAccordingly bench warrant is issued against the defendant in this charge to compel his appearance before this court for trial.
In a similar vein, the court held â€œin view of the inglorious attitude of messrs Amushi Nnamani -Nwankwo and Edward Omarga, I hereby refer them to the Legal practitioners and Disciplinary committee of the Nigeria Bar Association for sanction if their conduct is truly found wanting as legal practitionersâ€.
The suit has been adjourned to July 4, for the arraignment of the defendant.
The Special Presidential Investigations Panel for the Recovery of Public Property headed by Mr. Okoi Obono-Obla, had sacked Uwajeh who was appointed to serve as its special investigator following the criminal charges pending against him before the court.