Attorney General of Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami has taking over the prosecution of an Anambra state monarch, Igwe Peter Anaukwu Uyanwa of Ezedike Ukwulu Kingdom and nine others who are facing 11-count charge at the Federal High Court, Abuja for perjury and alleged breach of peace.
Others defendants in the suit marked FHC/ABJ/ CR /255/2019 filed on October 29 are Chief Walter Okafor, Chief Boniface Kamuche, Mr. Michael Eziachalla, Chief Christian Nwadiuto, Iche Godwin Anigbata, Mr. Ezekiel Aniekwe,Chief Peter Mmonife, Iche Agu Felix Uzodigwe and Comrade Austine Maduka.
A senior state counsel, Bagudu Sani, who announced appearance in court last Friday for the attorney general of the federation, told the trial court judge, Justice Okon Abang that the minister has taken over the prosecution of the case from the Inspector General of Police, Adamu Mohammed.
At the resumed hearing of the matter, Justice Abang had told the prosecution counsel that the matter was for the hearing of an application filed by Cosmos Anyanwu on behalf of the inspector general of police seeking to withdraw the suit from the court, but the judge said the court was ready to hear the application.
But, the lawyer from the office of attorney general, Sani told the court that Malami has taken over the matter and would proceed with the prosecution of the defendants, disclosing that he has applied to withdraw the notice of withdrawal filed on behalf of the inspector general.
The counsel further told the court that the minister would prosecute the defendants for the alleged offences and would not ask to terminate the trial.
He said it is unfortunate that the defendants have ignored the court summons served on them to appear for arraignment.
Sani therefore, prayed the court to issue a bench warrant for their arrest as the records of the court have shown that they have refused to appear for arraignment.
However, defendants’ counsel, Ikenna Egbuna (SAN) opposed the appearance of Sani for the prosecution. Besides, he said the defendants have filed an appeal challenging the decision of the court not to strike out the case at the last adjourned date.
He said it is wrong for the court to insist that the defendants who are facing criminal trial must be in court before the application for withdrawal of the suit is heard.
Thirdly, the counsel prayed the court to adjourn the trial sina die pending the decision of the Court of Appeal.
In his ruling, Justice Abang noted that the attorney general has applied to take over the matter, adding since the minister has elected to exercise his powers to take -over the criminal proceeding, it was not mandatory for him to send a letter.
He ruled that the notice of withdrawal earlier filed by counsel to the inspector general is spent, stated further that the notice of withdrawal having been abandoned is hereby struck out.
Justice Abang said the court will not issue a bench warrant of arrest on the defendants, but he will give them another opportunity to appear in court at the next adjourned date, adding that the prosecution is at liberty to re -apply for the bench warrant on December 16, if they failed to appear in court.
The defendants were accused of perjury, conspiracy and the spread of false information that led to the breach of peace in Ukwulu Kingdom in Anambra state.