Alex Enumah in Abuja
Justice Abdulwahab Mohammed of a Grade 1 Area Court, Kubwa, Abuja, yesterday ordered the police to arrest Senator Hope Uzodinma, for allegedly issuing a dud cheque (bounced cheque) in the sum of N200m.
Uzodimma, represents Imo West Senatorial District at the National Assembly.
Uzodimma and his two companies were accused by one Chima Akuzie, and his company, Chitex Ventures Ltd, of issuing them a N200m UBA dud cheque.
However, following an application by counsel to the complainants, Oluwatosin Ojaomo, Justice Mohammed ordered that the senator be arrested and produced in court over his failure to appear in court to answer to the allegations.
Ojaomo in the oral application made before the court noted that Uzodinma was absent in court despite being represented on the previous date by a lawyer, Eze Oguaju, and being aware of the proceedings slated for September 18.
He also noted that Uzodinma’s lawyer was also absent and subsequently asked the court to invoke Section 131 of the ACJA 2015 against the defendants by issuing a bench warrant to compel their appearance in court.
Delivering ruling, Justice Mohammed said that the court had at its last sitting rejected a similar application by the complainant to afford the defendants the opportunity to attend court by themselves.
The judge noted that Oguaju also promised to ensure that his client attend court on the next date. He further noted that the court had warned that it would, suo motu (on its own) invoke Section 131 of the ACJA should Oguaju renege on his pledge to ensure that his client attend court.
He said: “Based on the above, and relying on the available facts, that the defendants are absent and are without legal representation, I am inclined to grant the application made under Section 131 of the ACJA 2015, as made by the complainant’s counsel.
“And also, relying on the record of this court dated 11th day of September 2018, this court hereby invokes Section 131 of the ACJA in ordering the issuance of arrest warrant against the 1st defendant (Uzodinma).
“By virtue of the provision of Section 478 of the ACJA, and for their absence, a plea of not guilty is entered for the 2nd and 3rd defendants,” the judge said.
He adjourned to September 25 for the defendants’ arraignment. Oguaju had, on September 11, told the court that he filed a motion on notice for preliminary objection dated September 10 challenging the jurisdiction of the court.
He also said the defendants were not properly served, citing Section 123 of the ACJA, which provides that a court’s summon should be delivered personally.
The defence lawyer further said the other defendants – the companies – are located in Lagos State and Port-Harcourt (Rivers State). He added that Uzodinma was not served personally.