Alex Enumah in Abuja
Justice Binta Nyako of the Federal High Court in Abuja, yesterday struck out the criminal charge filed against the former Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, for lack of diligent prosecution.
The disbanded Special Presidential Investigation Panel on Recovery of Public Property, headed by Okoi Obono Obla, had on May 11, 2018, dragged Ekweremadu before the Federal High Court Abuja Division over allegations bordering on false assets declaration.
While proceedings were ongoing in the matter, the federal government disbanded the panel, with the office of the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) taking over all cases it was handling.
When the matter was called yesterday, the trial judge struck out the suit due to lack of diligence in its prosecution.
Though, a counsel from the office of the AGF, Mr. Pius Akuta announced appearance , Justice Nyako ruled that the prosecution is at liberty to re-file the charge when they are ready.
She said that if the AGF had difficulties taking over the prosecution of the criminal case against the former deputy Senate President, the AGF knows what to do.
According to the judge, the court would not make an order against the disbanded panel or an individual over the case file which the prosecution counsel said they have difficulty retrieving.
Akuta had earlier in his submission opposed the motion by the defendant’s counsel, Mr. Adegboyega Awomolo (SAN) that the charge be struck out.
He also opposed an indefinite adjournment but prefers a short adjournment although he was not in possession of the case file.
Earlier when the matter was called , Awomolo insisted that his objection to the competent of the charge and jurisdiction of the court should be determined first. But Justice Nyako declined Awomolo’s request.
She said until she is seize of the criminal matter and the defendant – Ekweremadu is in the duck and counsel announced appearances, the court would not take step on the matter.
The panel had in May 2018 charged Senator Ekweremadu for false declaration of assets.
Meanwhile, the two other consolidated suits dealing with the forfeiture of Senator Ekweremadu’s 22 properties has being adjourned to April 28, 2020.
Justice Nyako refused the defendant’s counsel application seeking to strike out the suits on the grounds that the consolidated suits were for mention.