…to commence trial on January 31, 2023
The Central Criminal Court, London, also known as Old Bailey, has once again denied former Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, bail.
The Court, in the pre-trial hearing on Tuesday, delivered its verdict denying Ekweremadu bail on the grounds that he was a flight risk.
The Court was said to have cited the letter and assets forfeiture proceedings against the embattled Senator by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
Ekweremadu’s lawyer had in the bail application argued that the Nigerian High Commissioner to the United Kingdom and the Attorney-General of the Federal had written to the court that Ekweremadu was not a flight risk.
His defence also argued that a guarantee to produce him should he pose a flight risk was given and that the Nigeria High Commission in the UK had equally given the option of tagging Ekweremadu electronically to monitor his movement.
While his lawyer referred to attestation of Ekweremadu’s character by respected Nigerians and organisations, he also argued that the lawmaker had proved to be a caring and responsible father and could not escape from London, abandoning his wife and sick daughter.
The defence further told the court that they had sureties and securities of nearly half a million pounds sterling from 11 people to secure Ekweremadu’s release on bail.
Stating that Ekweremadu was a highly regarded, well-known public figure, his defense also referred to Ekweremadu’s involvement in some global humanitarian courses.
But the prosecution insisted that Ekweremadu was a flight risk, arguing that as a holder of international passports from two other countries, the lawmaker could escape to any of the other countries aside from Nigeria.
The prosecution also cited the 18th July 2022 letter by the EFCC signed on behalf of the Executive Chairman, Abdulraheed Bawa, by the Assistant Director Operations, Abdulkarim Chukkoi, and referred to the assets forfeiture proceedings against Ekweremadu in the Federal High Court, Abuja.
The Judge while refusing the bail application said, “I am entirely satisfied there remains a flight risk,” noting that bail would not make much difference “as the trial is just over a month away.”
Recall that Ekweremadu’s lawyer, Adegboyega Awomolo (SAN), claimed that the EFCC truncated Ekweremadu’s bail application in July.
Awomolo, among other things, also accused the EFCC of dishonestly obtaining an interim assets forfeiture order against the lawmaker by withholding vital information from Justice Inyang Ekpo.
In a swift reaction, EFCC dismissed the allegations through its lawyer, Mr. Sylvanus Tahir (SAN), saying it was a mere coincidence.
The trial of the embattled Senator Ekweremadu, his wife and daughter will now begin on January 31, 2023.