By Ushang Ewa
Mr. Akwaji DonHenry, a legal practitioner has raised alarm over what he feels is a plan to arrest a gubernatorial aspirant of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Mr. Venatius Ikem.
Mr. Akwaji who is also a legal representative to Mr. Ikem told CrossRiverWatch on Telephone that he perceives desperation from the state as they applied for a warrant to arrest his client twice within a week.
Court documents obtained by CrossRiverWatch shows that on August 3rd, 2018 the state filed a motion exparte seeking for an order to issue a warrant of arrest for Mr. Ikem at a magistrate court in the Calabar magisterial division.
In the affidavit to support the motion exparte deposed by Mrs. Florence Nso, a law officer attached to the Department of Public Prosecution, the state argued that Mr. Ikem was named an accused person in case number MC/9C/2016 for attempted murder as well as conversion and stealing of Cross River State property; a Toyota TX – L (Full Option) 2.7 litres SUV.
The state also argued that it was necessary for the court to issue the warrant to ensure Mr. Ikem’s “enforced appearance” in court as he is said to be “parading the streets and breathing the air of freedom.”
And, on Monday, August 6, 2018, Mrs. Rita Marshall, a Chief Magistrate Grade 1 who relied on Section 54 of the Criminal Procedure Law of Cross River State ruled that issuing a warrant of arrest in the circumstance was discretionary and hence, in her discretion refused the entire application and dismissed the motion.
Two days later, on Wednesday, August 8, 2018, the state again went to court and applied orally for a warrant of arrest which was again dismissed.
And, sources in the Ministry of Justice told CrossRiverWatch that there are efforts to get the police command in Cross River State to arrest Mr. Ikem ahead of the house of assembly bye-election in Obudu slated for Saturday (tomorrow) in Obudu.
Mr. Akwaji also told CrossRiverWatch that he wondered the reason for the renewed vigor by the state since the matter was first heard in 2016.
“It seems like desperation,” Akwaji said.
Meanwhile, CrossRiverWatch had reported that the state is taking Mr. Ikem to court for attempted murder.
And, information reaching our judiciary correspondent suggests that following Mr. Ikem’s filing of suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/166/16 where he sought to enforce alleged violation of fundamental human rights as well as restraining the police from arresting him in connection with the aforementioned allegation in MC/9C/2016, the magistrate court had adjourned indefinitely, the hearing of that case as it can’t claim jurisdiction in a matter before a higher court.
Also, the file sent to the Department of Public Prosecution for a legal opinion on the matter was never returned, sources in the know of the case said.
Political watchers say the arrest of Mr. Ikem would have put a dent on the chances of the the candidate of the APC in the bye-election is said to have been sponsored by him.
He is a former ally of Governor Ben Ayade who is said to have sponsored the candidate of the People’s Democratic Party and the fight is viewed as being between Mr. Ikem and the governor.
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