By CrossRiverWatch admin
A Calabar Magistrates Court today issued a warrant of arrest on a former Obudu Local Government Chairman, former Commissioner, and APC stalwart, Barrister Venatius Ikem for allegedly failing to appear in court.
CrossRiverWatch gathered from sources that yesterday, a summons requesting Barrister Ikem to appear before a Chief Magistrates Court in Calabar today, was issued and taken to his house.
Mr. Ikem who has virtually relocated to his country home in Obudu for over five months now to consolidate his politics at home, was not home at the time but on meeting his absence, the bailiff called his wife to inquire if she will sign the court summons. Failing to secure her affirmation, the bailiff was said to have hung the summons at the gate of Barrister Ikem’s personal residence in Calabar.
At the time of filing this report, CrossRiverWatch effort to obtain the charge sheet or speak with the Commissioner of Police to get details of the charges for which Mr. Ikem is being summoned by the court were not yet successful but we understand that when the matter was mentioned in court today, Ikem was absent in Court. The Police prosecutor applied for the issuance of a warrant of arrest which was granted by the Chief Magistrate.
Meanwhile, CrossRiverWatch has confirmed that the charges may not be unconnected with the 2011 altercation between Mr. Ikem who was then the State Commissioner for Works and Boniface Ishamali, who was then an aide to Governor Ayade, who was a Senator at the time.
The altercation saw Mr. Ikem stabbing Mr. Boniface Ishamali with a broken bottle on 29th December 2011. Ikem was eventually arraigned at the magistrate court in Calabar where he was discharged and acquitted.
Mr. Ishamali appealed the case on grounds of human rights and got a judgement of N300,000 fine against Mr. Ikem.
Earlier today, Mr. Boniface Ishamali, who is now a Special Assistant to Governor Ayade on Petroleum, told CrossRiverWatch that, there are new facts on the matter that have necessitated the filing of fresh criminal charges against Mr. Ikem.
Though he did not disclose the new facts to CrossRiverWatch even upon request, he said he was sure that the prosecution will do a good job.
But Mr. Ikem’s lawyer, Barrister Obono Obla has said that the resurrection of the matter which has been decided by the court is a veiled attempt by the governor to use Mr. Ishamali to harass and intimidate Mr. Ikem for decamping from the PDP to the APC.
In a statement by Obla to CrossRiverWatch, he said: “I have been briefed by Barrister Ikem accordingly and we are proceeding to file processes at a higher court to vacate the purported order. I condemn the order of arrest and say that the charge is trumped up and politically motivated. It is unfortunate that the Governor has become dictatorial and he is now using his inlaw and the police to intimidate and harass Ikem, a former national spokesperson of the PDP for leaving the Party in a courageous manner like he did and now rallying the opposition in his local government which did not go down well with the governor.
“Barrister Ikem was away to Lagos on a business meeting. Today when the case was mentioned in Court and Barrister Ikem was absent in Court, the Police Prosecutor applied for the issuance of a warrant of arrest. Despite the fact there was evidence before the Chief Magistrate that the Summons was not personally served on Barrister Ikem, as required by Law, the Chief Magistrate regrettably and improperly issued a bench warrant for the arrest of Barrister Ikem.
“Accordingly Barrister Ikem has instructed me to file an application for the enforcement of his fundamental rights in the Federal High Court, Calabar to quash the purported warrant of arrest.”
But Mr. Christian Ita, the Chief Press Secretary to Governor Ayade told CrossRiverWatch that it is unfair to associate the governor with the matter. He wondered why Obla who is a lawyer will fail to understand that criminal matters are not status barred and can always return to court anytime fresh facts emerge.
“How will anyone relate the governor to a matter that is clearly a criminal matter that has been in court before? Was the act committed? Where they taken before a court? Did Ikem plead guilty? Are they fresh facts in the matter? Does the complainant have a right to return to court? These are the questions that should be answered to arrive at a logical conclusion and I think it is unfair to associate the governor to the matter. Obla is a lawyer and he should know that criminal matters are not status barred.” He said.