An Imo State high court sitting in the Orlu division of the state has set aside an arrest warrant earlier issued by an Orsu Magistrate’s court against the former Chairman of the National Population Commission, Festus Odimegwu, saying he was never an accused in the matter for which a warrant of arrest was issued.
An Orsu Chief Magistrate’s court presided over by Mr. G.C. Okoli had issued a warrant of arrest on the former chairman of National Population Commission for allegedly refusing to appear before the court to answer charges bordering on conspiracy and stealing.
However, delivering judgment in the suit HOR/33/2015 between Festus Odimegwu and the Imo State Commissioner of Police and Other, Hon. Justice L.C .Azama Said, “In this case the applicant has prayed this Court to quash the proceedings of the Orsu Magistrate Court sitting at Awo Idemili over the Order of that Court for the arrest of the applicant on the ground that the said court acted ultra vires its powers in that the person of the applicant against whom the said order for arrest was directed, was not made an accused person before the said order was made over a matter he knew next to nothing about. Applicant exhibited his application Exhibit B, which is the charge sheet before the Magistrate which contains the names of the following persons namely: Moses Okafor, Ichie Ezenwata Peter Obidike, Innocent Edom, Orji Boniface.
“All of which have nothing to do with the identity of the applicant whose names are given as Eze Festus Odimegwu. It was also shown that not even the Police thought it fit to invite the applicant over any allegation of crime against him let alone arresting him for same before the court below came into the matter to do what the police did not see fit to do.”
Justice Azuama further ruled that “an order for arrest is not an invitation, it has a coercive effect and power and capable of abridging the fundamental right of a citizen and to make such order without the opportunity given to the person effected or to be effected or by it to be heard on the matter before it is made runs against the dictate of natural justice and constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended.”