By Innocent Anaba
LAGOS—JUSTICE Chukwujekwu Aneke of a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos, yesterday, issued a bench warrant for the arrest of former National Intelligence Agency, NIA, Director-General, Ambassador Ayodele Oke and his wife, Folasade.
The court ordered the arrest and detention of the couple, following an application by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, which had brought charge of money laundering, fraud, concealment of crime proceeds, and criminal breach of trust.
The EFCC told the court that the accused could not be found for them to be served with a money laundering charge filed against them, adding that the couple also refused to pick calls from its (EFCC) operatives.
Moving the application, EFCC lawyer, Rotimi Oyedepo, urged the court to declare them wanted.
He said: “The defendants are not in court and not represented. They are yet to be served with the charge. In the course of investigation, they provided an address in their statements. We visited that address but we didn’t find them. The securitymen confirmed they live there.
“We also made repeated calls to their numbers, but they chose not to pick our calls. In view of these, I urge your lordship to grant us a warrant of arrest of the defendants for the purpose of compelling their attendance in court.
“Section 114 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, ACJA, empowers your lordship to do so. We’re ready to produce them if we obtain the order.”
He added that the suspects, who had no legal representation, could not claim ignorance of the charges as the case had been in the news since it was initiated, adding “We pray for an additional order declaring them wanted.”
In his ruling, Justice Aneke said: “Consequent upon the difficulties encountered by the prosecution in having the defendants appear before this court to stand trial, I am convinced that the application is not without merit.
“In the circumstances, I hereby accordingly issue an order of warrant of arrest against the first defendant in accordance with Section 114 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015.”
Justice Aneke, meanwhile, refused the application for them to be declared wanted, noting that they would only be declared wanted if EFCC does not succeed in executing the bench warrant.
The court, thereafter, adjourned until March 18 for report of compliance.