A Chief Magistrates Court in Port Harcourt, Rivers State has issued a bench warrant as well as a warrant of arrest against a one-time governorship aspirant in Anambra State, Walter Ubaka Okeke.
The former gubernatorial aspirant is facing a trial in suit number PMC/884c/2022, which bothers on alleged stealing of oil drilling pipes and many heavy duty equipment worth over N800 million.
The accused, a native of Enugu village in Nanka, Orumba North Local Government Area of Anambra, but resident in Trans-Amadi, Port Harcourt, allegedly committed the offense in Rivers.
Part of the suit filed by the Commissioner of Police 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 suit further mentioned the value of the alleged stolen property to be over N800 million, 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 matter was mentioned in court yesterday, before Chief Magistrate Court A.O. Amadi-Nna, counsel for the accused, Oluchukwu Ulasi raised a preliminary objection, reminding the court of his pending application before it.
Ulasi 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.
But the police prosecution counsel, Godday Amadi, in a swift reaction, said the suit before Amadi-Nna was a criminal case and that it 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 stealing case.
Amadi urged the court to continue with the criminal case of stealing, pointing out that the accused had refused repeatedly to appear in court.
He demanded for a bench warrant as well as a warrant of arrest to produce the accused to court.
After hearing the arguments of the both counsels representing the parties in the matter, the trial Chief magistrate, Amadi-Nna issued a bench warrant, ordering that the accused (Okeke) be arrested and brought to the court on next adjourned date
He adjourned the matter till December 8, this year for hearing.
Speaking with journalists outside the courtroom, the defence counsel, Ulasi, said he would study the ruling to see the best line of action, wondering why his preliminary objection was overlooked.
On his part, the prosecuting counsel, Amadi, said he was happy that the court agreed with his submission, stressing 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.