By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
ABUJA– The Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, on Friday, issued warrant for the arrest of the Deputy Speaker of the Imo state House of Assembly, Hon. Amarachi Iwuanyanwu, following his alleged involvement in a N785million fraud.
The court, in a ruling that was delivered by Justice Inyang Ekwo, directed the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, the Nigeria Police, the Department of Stats Services, the Nigerian Immigration Services and the Interpol, to arrest the lawmaker on sight, “anywhere he is sighted in Nigeria or outside Nigeria and produce him before this honourable court or to the EFCC headquarters, Abuja”.
The order for Iwuanyawu’s arrest was sequel to an ex-parte application dated November 14, which the EFCC brought before the court through its lawyer, Mr. Olanrewaju Adeola.
In the application marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/2124/2024, EFCC, told the court that it got an intelligence that the lawmaker had since escaped from the country and is currently hiding in the United States of America, USA.
It told the court that the Respondent refused to make himself available to respond to a petition that was lodged against him and his company, Sun Gold Estate Limited.
According to the EFCC, a firm, Hakiz Investment Company Limited, had in the petition that was signed by its lawyer, Mr. A. A Malik, SAN, and addressed to its Chairman, alleged that it had sometime in 2012, entered into a Memorandum of Understanding, MoU, with Iwuanyawu’s company to develop an estate comprising of 14 units of 4 bedroom terrace and one blocks of 6 flats on the petitioner’s land situated at Mabuchi Abuja.
It told the court that the agreement was that upon the completion of the estate by the Respondent, the complainant, who is the owner of the land, would take 40% of the building, while the Respondent, being the developer, would take 60% of the building.
However, the anti-graft agency alleged that its investigations revealed that “upon completion of the estate, the Respondent sold all the buildings and criminally diverted the funds without the knowledge of the Complainant”.
“That the market value of 40% of the buildings is about N785million.
“That investigation is still ongoing and all invitations extended to both Iwuanyanwu and his company proved abortive.
“That a lawyer to the Respondent had on one of the occasions, received a copy of the invitation on his behalf and made promises that he would be available for questioning.
“That there is an intelligence report that the Respondent is in the USA.
“That without the suspect being apprehended or voluntarily coming to state their side of the story, the investigation will be incomplete.
“That in the light of the calculated effort by the suspect to remain evasive, there is need to place the suspect on watch list of the Commission, the police and any other law enforcement”, EFCC averred in an affidavit that was deposed to by one of its officials, Ufuoma Ezire.
EFCC maintained that it would be in the interest of justice for the court to issue an arrest warrant against the Respondent.
It predicated the application for an arrest warrant to be issued against the Respondent on section 35(1) (c ) of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, sections 3, 37 and 39(1) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015, as well as sections 6, 7, 13 and 41 of the EFCC (Establishment Act) 2004.
The Commission told the court that it had since written investigation activities letters to the Corporate Affairs Commission, Banks, and other relevant agencies.
Meanwhile, in his ruling, Justice Ekwo held that there was merit in the ex-parte application and accordingly granted it.
Specifically, the court, made an order: “Issuing a warrant of arrest against Hon. Amarachi Iwuanyanwu.
As well as, “An order of this honourable court authorizing and or directing the EFCC, Nigeria Police, Department of State Services, the Nigerian Immigration Services and the Interpol to arrest on sight Hon. Amarachi Iwuanyawu anywhere sighted in Nigeria or outside Nigeria and produce her before this Honorable court or to the EFCC headquarters, Abuja”.
Justice Ekwo adjourned the matter till February 23 for report.