Rivers Court Issues Bench Warrant Against A Former Anambra PDP Guber Aspirant
For a case of stealing oil drilling pipes and many heavy duty equipment worth over N800 million, a Port Harcourt Chief Magistrate’s Court has issued a bench warrant as well as a warrant of arrest against a onetime Anambara State governorship aspirant, Walter Ubaka Okeke.
The accused hails from Enugwu village of Nanka in Orumba North local council area, but lives in his own compound at the Trans-Amadi area of the Garden City where the complainant allegedly stocked the oil drilling pipes and other heavy industrial equipment.
The bench warrant and warrant of arrest were issued by the Chief Magistrate at Court 10 in Port Harcourt where the Chief Magistrate, A.O. Amadi Nna, gave a ruling in a preliminary objection raised by a defence counsel, Barr Oluchuchu Ulasi.
The charge sheet filed on May 27, 2022, stated that; “You, Walter Ubaka Okeke, and others now at large, did conspire to commit felony to wit: stealing; and therefore committed an offence punishable under Section 516A of the Criminal Code Law Cap 37 Vol 2, Laws of Rivers State”.
The second count mentioned the value of the alleged stolen property to be over N800m, items said to be property of a Port Harcourt business man, Mr Ifeanyi Amaonye, kept in the open at the accused’s compound in Trans-Amadi.
When the case came up on Monday, October 31, 2022, at Chief Magistrate’s Court 10, counsel to the accused raised a preliminary objection, saying there was an application they just submitted to the court.
He said there was a case where the defendant (Okeke), who is landlord of the said compound, got a ruling asking the police not to harass him whatsoever.
The police prosecution counsel, Barr Godday Amadi, countered saying the case in the Chief Magistrate’s Court was simply a criminal case and that the case was stood down earlier in the year to allow the case at the Rivers State High Court to run to the end where the defendant asked for enforcement of his fundamental human rights.
He noted that the said case at the High Court had run to an end with a judgment that was not in favour of the accused (Okeke). He further pointed out that there was no appeal from it before the Chief Magistrate sitting over the theft case.
He thus said by this, the criminal case of stealing at the Chief Magistrate’s Court should continue, but that Okeke (the accused) had refused repeatedly to come to court.
He demanded for a bench warrant as well as a warrant of arrest to produce the accused to court.
After a staccato of exchanges between both counsels, the Chief Magistrate ruled ordering the arrest of Okeke who should be produced in court on December 8, 2022.
In an interview after the court session, the defence counsel, Barr Ulasi, said he would study the ruling to see the best line of action, wondering why his preliminary objection was overlooked.
On his own, the prosecuting counsel, Barr Amadi, said he was happy that the court agreed with his submission that the law frowns at preliminary objections that seek to obstruct trial in criminal matters.
He said the prosecution was ready to prove the case of stealing against Okeke, also a Port Harcourt based business man.