THE absence of a Prosecution Counsel, John Ijagbemi, in a Federal High Court on Wednesday stalled the re-arraignment of Ms Precious Chikwendu, the estranged wife of Chief Femi Fani-Kayode.
Chikwendu is the 2nd defendant in the 14-count amended charge that bordered on alleged threat to the lives of witnesses lined up in the alleged attempted murder charge against her and three others.
Other defendants in the trial include Emmanuel Anakan, Prisca Chikwendu and Osakwe Azubuike as 1st, 3rd and 4th defendants respectively, while others are said to be at large.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the four defendants were to be re-arraigned by the Nigerian police.
Nneka Amadi, who held brief for Ijagbemi, told Justice Inyang Ekwo that the lead counsel could not attend the sitting because he was indisposed.
“This matter is slated for arraignment but the lead counsel is indisposed my lord,” she said.
She, therefore, prayed the court for an adjournment.
Justice Ekwo, who asked Amadi if she was a police officer, queried why she held the brief of Ijagbemi.
“Are you in Police Force? Can you hold brief for somebody?
“Don’t you know, in law, you don’t hold brief for another in government establishment?” Ekwo said.
Counsel for the 1st, 2nd and 3rd defendants in the suit, Emeka Uchegbulam, did not oppose Amadi’s prayer for an adjournment but urged the court to take note that it was at the instance of the prosecution.
Peter Abang, lawyer to the 3rd defendant, also spoke in the same vein.
Justice Ekwo, who adjourned the matter at the instance of the prosecution, fixed October 6 for the defendants to take a plea.
“This shall be the last adjournment for the prosecution. Case adjourn till October 6, 2022 for plea,” he ruled.
However, a reliable source informed that attempt is ongoing to settle the matter amicably with Ms Chikwendu.
According to the source, the charges against Precious Chikwendu may be dropped while the police will go ahead with the prosecution of the three other defendants in the matter.
NAN reports that the police authorities had accused Ms Chikwendu and Anakan, a co-defendant, of threatening the lives of witnesses lined up in the alleged attempted murder charge against them.
The offence, listed as count 14 in the new amended charge, was alleged to have been committed within the premises of the FHC, Abuja.
They were alleged to have “criminally threatened the lives of Bako Maina, Isah Kudaru and other witnesses in the case to eliminate them by death if they insist in testifying in the case.”
The offence was said to be punishable under Section 397 of the Penal Code.
The four defendants were earlier arraigned before the court on Feb. 14 on 13 counts, and Justice Ekwo fixed April 27, April 28 and April 29 for trial commencement.
But in an amended charge marked: FHC/ABJ/CR/01/2022 dated and filed by Ijagbemi on behalf of Commissioner of Police, FCT Command on April 28, the ex-wife was also being charged on allegations bordering on attempted murder of her former husband and children.
She was alleged to have carried two kitchen knives threatening to kill Fani-Kayode, the children and other occupants of the house at Asokoro on Nov. 24, 2018, within the court jurisdiction.
An offence said to be punishable under Section 229 of the Penal Code Law.
She was also accused of making false allegations on Nov. 24, 2018 with doctored pictures with intent to deceive members of the public and make them believe that the injuries in the pictures were inflicted on her by her ex-husband.
Besides, Chikwendu was alleged to have “criminally uploaded doctored/photo-shopped pictures” of her biological child, Liam Femi Fani-Kayode, who was four years old, in order to deceive members of the public that the child sustained injury on his forehead.
According to the charge, the offence is punishable under Section 24 (1) (b) of the Cybercrime (Prohibition, Prevention etc.) Act 2015.
The defendants were further alleged to have committed offences bordering on cybercrime, intimidation to kill the former minister by use of Internet, through which they said he did not deserve to live, among others.
In a related development, Chikwendu is also answering charges of defamation brought against her by former lawmaker, Sen. Grace Bent before a sister judge, Obiora Egwuatu.