By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
ABUJA—The Federal High Court in Abuja, yesterday, issued a bench warrant for the arrest of a self-acclaimed United Kingdom-based private investigator, Chief Victor Uwajeh.
Justice John Tsoho directed security agencies to arrest and produce the defendant in court on June 4 for arraignment.
Uwajeh, who was accused of attempting to obtain money through fraudulent means from Senator Andy Uba, who represents Anambra South senatorial district, is facing a four-count charge the Federal Government preferred against him.
At the resumed sitting on the matter, government lawyer, Mr. Abubakar Alilu, applied for a bench warrant, following repeated absence of the defendant in court, even though he was duly served a copy of the charge.
However, a lawyer, Mr. Amobi Nzelu, opposed the application, saying he was newly briefed by the defendant to represent him.
Aside praying the court for an adjournment to enable him to study the case, Nzelu applied to see the judge in the chambers to intimate him of “certain developments” he said would not be proper for him to divulge in the open court.
Consequently, Justice Tsoho stood down the matter for about one hour.
However, when the proceeding resumed, Justice Tsoho said he was not persuaded by Nzelu’s submissions.
The Judge held that the absence of the defendant constituted an affront to authority of the court and rendered him liable for an order of arrest pursuant to sections 131 and 352(1a) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015.
“Accordingly, bench warrant is issued against the defendant in this charge to compel his appearance before this court,” the judge ruled.
The court further referred two lawyers that initially appeared and filed bail application on behalf of the defendant and “vanished”, to the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee, LPDC, for necessary actions to be taken against them.
Justice Tsoho stressed that under section 349(8) of the ACJA, the lawyers ought to have three days before the hearing date, notified the court of their intention to withdraw from the case.
He held that Nzelu had no right of hearing in the matter pending the formal withdrawal of the defence lawyers on record.
Meantime, the defendant was said to have been indicted by an investigation a crack team from the Nigerian Police Force conducted on a petition that was written to the Inspector General of Police, IGP, Mr. Ibrahim Idris, by Senator Uba.
The embattled lawmaker had in his petition, accused Uwajeh of attempting to use bogus and illegally procured documents to extort money from him.
Nevertheless, the defendant insisted that Senator Uba engaged his services for an assignment in the United Kingdom Border Agency and in the United States of America.
Uwajeh said he previously dragged Uba to court over his alleged refusal to pay him the debt of £1.9million that was remaining from their agreed fee.
In the said suit, the defendant accused Uba of parading fake academic credentials.
He said he got details of Uba’s alleged dubious qualifications from documents he was exposed to while he worked as a private investigator for the lawmaker.
Uwajeh maintained that Uba had in his desire to make the work easier for him, furnished him with data pages of both his American and Nigerian passports.
Police said it had at the end of its investigations, uncovered that the information the defendant was allegedly using against Senator Uba, was “fraudulently obtained”.
Senator Uba was listed among seven witnesses billed to testify before the court.