From: Petrus Obi, Enugu
A Chief Magistrate Court, presided over by His Worship Chief Magistrate D. K. Ekoh, has dismissed an application for bench warrant brought against an Enugu lawmaker, Hon. Joseph Agbo, granting him another opportunity to appear before it.
The legislator, who is the second accused person in Suit No. CME/616C/2016, Commissioner of Police vs Okoh Chijioke, was accused of deliberately stalling the matter by consistently absenting himself from court.
In his application for a warrant, prosecution counsel Chika C. Machie esq recalled that on May 24, 2017, the second accused was also absent from court on the excuse that he was attending a seminar at Ogbudu Cattle Ranch in Cross River State.
Machie who recalled that there was reliable information that the accused person was seen in Enugu, accused the lawmaker of using his position as a member of the House of Assembly to brazenly stall the trial.
“He absolutely has no respect for the court and should be called to order through a bench warrant.
“The accused persons are standing trial on a four-count charge of forgery, but the second accused person has chosen to persistently stay away from court. I therefore urge the court to issue a bench warrant to show that being a member of the Assembly is not a reason to forestall his trial.”
The defense counsel, E.U Okafor, however, countered the application for a bench warrant on the grounds that the deformity on the leg of the second accused person prevented him from taking a taxi back from Abuja to meet with the court session, having missed his flight.
Okafor who had earlier informed the court that his client travelled to Abuja for Visa interview explained that he could not get a flight to arrive Enugu in time for the court sitting.
In its ruling the court observed that the reason advanced by the defense counsel is a special circumstance which must be considered in granting such an application.
The court therefore refused the application but warned that it would not hesitate to issue same should the second accused person be absent from court during the next sitting.
The case was adjourned to the 18th and 19th of July 2017 for hearing.