Godwin Tsa, Abuja
The office of the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) on Monday told the Abuja division of the Federal High Court that a lawyer had disappeared with the case file containing the charges against a former Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu.
Senator Ekweremadu was charged before the court by the defunct Okoi Obono-Obla led Special Presidential Investigation Panel for the Recovery of Public Property (SPIPP) over alleged non-declaration of assets.
Meanwhile, the case has been struck out by Justice Binta Nyako for want of deligent prosecution.
The panel had sometime in 2018 filed the charge marked FHC/ABJ/CR/62/2018 against Ekweremadu wherein, it alleged that “without reasonable excuse”, the serving senator refused and neglected to declare his assets upon being served the panel’s “notice to declare”.
Following the disbandment of the panel in 2019, the AGF office took over the case and other suits being handled by the SPIPP sequel to a presidential directive.
When the case came up on Monday, Justice Binta Nyako struck out the case against Ekweremadu after the prosecuting counsel from the AGF office, Mr Pius Akutah, said the former lawyer handling the case for the panel had disappeared with the case file.
Akutah pleaded with the judge to order the former counsel to release the file to the AGF office but the request was declined by the judge.
But Ekweremadu’s lawyer, Chief Adegboyega Awomolo (SAN), urged the judge to strike out the case.
Responding, Justice Nyako dismissed the prosecution’s request.
She said: “You are attorney general (referring to the lawyer as representing the AGF), you should know what to do.
“You should not be waiting for me to make an order against an individual.”
Justice Nyako added “so, as it is today, you don’t know the case against the defendant since you don’t have the file. I am going to strike out the case, when you are ready you can come back.
The case is hereby struck out for want of diligent prosecution. The prosecution is allowed to come back whenever tlit is ready to proceed with the case.”
The former deputy president who was in court stood in the dock while the proceedings lasted on Monday.