Justice Chuka Obiozor of a Federal High Court in Lagos on Monday issued a bench warrant for the arrest of a former governor of Enugu State, Chimaroke Nnamani, for failing to appear before the court.
The ex-governor was set for re-arraignment today but Obiozor said Nnamani’s counsel did not present concrete explanation on his client’s absence from court. The judge also ordered the arrest of Nnamani’s aide and co-accused, Sunday Anyaogu.
Nnamani’s lawyer had told the court the former governor had undergone a heart surgery in the United States but the prosecution said the photographs brought by the lawyer were taken in 2014.
Nnamani, who served as governor between 1999 and 2007, is being prosecuted on 10 counts by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, for alleged economic crime, money-laundering and financial impropriety estimated at about N5.3 billion.
He was initially prosecuted along with his aide, Anyaogu. Both defendants were first arraigned in 2007 alongside their companies: Rainbownet (Nig) Ltd; Hillgate (Nig) Ltd; Cosmo FM; Capital City Automobile (Nig) Ltd; Renaissance University Teaching Hospital; and Mea Mater Elizabeth High School.
In 2015, all the companies pleaded guilty to the charges but the trial of Nnamani and Anyaogu continued to stall as a result of the former’s frequent travels abroad to treat an ear ailment.
During Monday’s sitting, the fourth judge to handle the matter made it clear to the defence lawyer that he would not tolerate any attempt to further delay the trial.
Obiozor said, “there is no evidence shown to the court as to why the defendants are absent, there is no justification for the the continued absence of the defendants.
“In the absence of any convincing evidence, it is hereby ordered that a bench warrant be issued against the defendants and summons to their sureties to show cause”.
The presiding judge subsequently adjourned the matter till December 14 for the re-arraignment of the defendants.