An Epe High Chief, Olajide Ikuforiji, who was declared wanted by a Federal High Court in Lagos, over failure to appear to answer a forgery case has been remanded in prison pending the determination of the case.
Justice AbdulAzeez Anka gave the order after revoking the bail earlier granted to him and admitting to fresh bail terms.
Ikuforiji, who is a senior brother of the former Speaker of Lagos State House of Assembly, Mr Adeyemi Ikuforiji, is currently facing trial on two count-charges of alleged forgery and uttering of forged documents of documents.
He was formerly arraigned before the court sometime in 2018, by the men of the Police Special Fraud Unit (PSFU), Ikoyi, Lagos.
However, midway into the trial of the charge, the defendant failed to appear before the court, the development, which compels the prosecutor, Mr Chukwu Agwu to ask the court for a bench warrant which was granted by the court.
At the resumed hearing of the charge today, the defendant’s lawyer, K. S. Lawal, Informed the court that he had two pending applications, which are ripe for hearing.
Lawal told the court that one of the applications is asking the court to set aside the earlier warrant of arrest against his client, while the second motion is asking the court to set aside the earlier order which foreclosed the defendant’s case due to his prolonged absence to open his defence or filed any written defence.
But the prosecutor, Mr Chukwu Agwu in his opposition to the hearing of the two applications, informed the court that he has just been served with an advance copy of the motions at the court premises and as such the applications are not ripe for hearing.
On the issue of the application seeking to set aside the Bench warrant for the arrest of the defendant, after a prolonged argument, and the defendant’s inability to clarify the true state of his sureties, the court revoked the earlier bail granted the defendant and granted fresh bail conditions with new terms.
The defendant was charged under section 2(c) of the Miscellaneous Offences Act 2004, Law of the Federation of Nigeria.
Counts one of the charges, alleged that Ikuforiji forged the Minutes of the Emergency Meeting of Eko Epe Forum held on October 20, 2022, at the residence of Otun Mogaji of Epeland.
Consequently, upon the arraignment of the defendant, the trial went on before Justice AbdulAzeez Anka and the prosecution closed its case after calling four witnesses and tendering several exhibits.
The trial judge, Justice Anka thereafter adjourned for the defendant to open his defence.
However, rather than open his defence, Ikuforiji opted for a no- case-submission which was later dismissed by the court.
Dissatisfied with the court’s decision, the defendant headed to Appeal court, to challenge the dismissal of his no-case-submission in a suit marked CA/L/1447c/2028.
However, the appellate court while delivering a ruling on the defendant’s appeal on July 23, 2020, upheld the lower court decision and ordered the defendant to return to the lower court and open his defence.
But instead of the defendant to obey the decision of the appellate court which ordered him to return to the lower court for his trial, he had refused to turn up for his trial since September 2020, despite service of hearing notice dated December 22, 2020, directing him to appear in court. While all efforts to get him tracked since January 20, 2021, were not successful.
Following his continued absence in court, the prosecutor, Barrister Agwu sought a bench warrant for his arrest which was granted by the court, but the police were still unable to apprehend him.
Consequently, the prosecution on June 13, 2022, applied to the court that the defendant is tried in absentia in line with section 352 ( sub 4) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, (ACJA) 2015, and the trial court granted the application.
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