By Innocent Anaba
A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos, yesterday, directed the prosecution to produce at the next adjourned date, the Commissioner for Insurance, Mr. Fola Daniel to court to answer to criminal charges leveled against him by the Attorney General of the Federation, AGF.
Trial Judge, Justice Okon Abang, while ruling on an application by the prosecution for a bench warrant to be issued against the Insurance Chief, held that it would be improper to do so hastily, particularly, for an accused that has not been formally arraigned before him.
Having refused to grant the bench warrant, the trial judge ordered the prosecution to ensure that it produced the accused to court at the next adjourned date and subsequently adjourned till February 6, 2014 for the arraignment of the accused.
While the AGF is represented by Mrs C Enembo, the accused was not represented even though the prosecution insisted that he had been properly put on notice.
Daniel is facing a six count charge bordering on criminal misrepresentation of facts and deliberate falsehood.
Justice Okon is the second judge to sit over the matter.
The first judge was Justice Ibrahim Buba, who struck out the suit on the ground that it was not properly filed late last year.
At that time, the accused was represented by Professor Taiwo Osipitan, SAN. All through the pendency of the suit, the accused never appeared in court.
His counsel, Osipitan had argued that because a private prosecutor, Mr Chijioke Ndubuisi initiated the charge without first obtaining the fiat of the AGF, there was no charge to be taken over by the office of the AGF.
Though Ndubuisi later got the AGF to take over the prosecution, Osipitan said it can’t happen because the charge did not comply with the rules of the Federal High Court due to the manner it was filed.
However, Enembo maintained that the office of the AGF has power to take over any prosecution initiated by a private prosecutor by virtue of section 174 (1)(b) of the Constitution.
But in his ruling, Justice Buba agreed with Osipitan and struck out the suit on the ground that it was defective.
As a result, the office of the AGF initiated this fresh charge which is now before Abang.
A private prosecutor, Ndubuisi, had filed the motion together with a six-count charge against Daniel at the court and subsequently wrote for a fiat of the AGF. The AGF declined the fiat but instead elected to do the prosecution.
In the said charge accompanying Ndubuisi’s motion, it was alleged that Daniel deliberately made a number of misleading and malicious misrepresentations against an insurance company, Alliance and General Insurance Limited to a number of public officers and agencies with the intention of damaging the reputation of the said insurance company.