A United Kingdom-based private investigator formerly working for the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Mr Victor Uwajeh, has pleaded with the Federal High Court in Abuja to set aside the order of arrest it issued against him in May this year.
In his application filed before the court, Uwajeh said he was in the UK when the court ordered his arrest, adding that he had since been so disturbed and unable to come to Nigeria for fear of being arrested, detained and humiliated by security agencies.
The Special Presidential Investigation Panel for the Recovery of Public Property, had also engaged Uwajeh as its private investigator earlier this year, but the panel later said it had to sack him when it came to its knowledge that a criminal case was pending against him in court.
Justice John Tsoho had on May 21, 2018 issued an arrest warrant against Uwajeh following his repeated refusal to attend court to face trial on criminal charges preferred against him by the Attorney General of the Federation’s office.
In the case marked, FHC/ABJ/CR/148/2017, Uwajeh was accused of altering a false document with which he allegedly claimed to be acting as agent of Senator Andy Uba, a serving senator from Anambra State.
An affidavit deposed to by one of the defendant’s lawyers, Mr Edward Omaga, and filed in support of the application, stated that his refusal to appear in court for arraignment since May was not an affront to the court but borne out of his fear of being arrested.
The affidavit stated, “That he (Uwajeh) was billed to visit The Hillingdon Hospitals, Middlesex, United Kingdom on May 18, 2018, before coming to Nigeria to present himself for arraignment on May 21, 2018.
“That his doctors advised him not to travel so that he can be monitored closely due to the severity of his illness and postponed his appointment from May 18, 2018 to August 10, 2018.
“That he was in the United Kingdom when he read on several online media platforms that a bench warrant was issued against him at the resumed sitting on May 21, 2018 to compel his appearance before this honourable court for trial.
“That his absence all this while is not intended to disobey or show affront to the authority of the honourable court but due to circumstances beyond his control.”
But the prosecution led by Mr Aminu Alilu of the AGF’s office, has urged the court not to set aside the arrest warrant.
In a counter-affidavit opposing Uwajeh’s application, the prosecution said contrary to the investigator’s claim, his absence from court shows “the defendant has no respect for this honourable court.”
The counter-affidavit added, “That there is no doctor’s report attached to the application stating that the defendant cannot travel down to Nigeria.
“That the attached medical report does not show any stamp from the alleged hospital that the defendant is receiving treatment.”
Lawyers representing parties to the suit had argued the motion for setting aside of the court’s arrest warrant on November 8.
The judge fixed January 17, 2018 for ruling on the application.
Justice Tsoho will also on the same day rule on an application by a lawyer, Amushi Nnamani Nwankwo, seeking to be allowed to be joined in the suit to enable him to challenge the court’s order made on May 21, 2018 referring him to the Legal Practitioners’ Disciplinary Committee.