Ike Ekweremadu, a former deputy senate president, has once more been denied bail by the Central Criminal Court in London, better known as the Old Bailey.
Tuesday’s pre-trial hearing resulted in the court rejecting bail on the grounds that the defendant posed a flight risk.
It was discovered that the letter and the senator’s asset seizure proceedings by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission were cited by the court.
Ekweremadu’s attorney claimed in the bail application that the Attorney-General of the Federal Government and the Nigerian High Commissioner to the United Kingdom had both written to the court stating that Ekweremadu was not a flight risk.
His defense also argued that a guarantee to produce him should he pose a flight risk was given and that the Nigeria High Commission in the UK had equally given the option of tagging Ekweremadu electronically to monitor his movement.
Referring to attestation of Ekweremadu’s character by respected Nigerians and organisations, his lawyer also argued that the lawmaker had proven to be a caring and responsible father and could not escape from London, abandoning his wife and sick daughter.
The defense further told the court that they had sureties and securities of nearly half a million pounds sterling from 11 people to secure Ekweremadu’s release on bail.
Stating that Ekweremadu was a highly regarded, well-known public figure, his defense also referred to Ekweremadu’s involvement in some global humanitarian courses.
However, the prosecution insisted that Ekweremadu was a flight risk contending that as a holder of international passports from two other countries, the lawmaker could escape to any of the other countries asides from Nigeria.
The prosecution also cited the 18th July 2022 letter by the EFCC signed on behalf of the Executive Chairman, Abdulraheed Bawa, by the Assistant Director Operations, Abdulkarim Chukkoi, and referred to the assets forfeiture proceedings against Ekweremadu in the Federal High Court, Abuja.
Refusing the bail application, the Judge said, “I am entirely satisfied there remains a flight risk,” noting that bail would not make much difference “as the trial is just over a month away.”
The PUNCH reported that Ekweremadu’s lawyer, Adegboyega Awomolo (SAN), claimed that the EFCC truncated Ekweremadu’s bail application in July.
Amongst other things, Awomolu also accused the EFCC of dishonestly obtaining an interim assets forfeiture order against the lawmaker by withholding vital information from Justice Inyang Ekpo.
However, the EFCC dismissed the allegations through its lawyer, Mr. Sylvanus Tahir (SAN), saying it was a mere coincidence.
The trial of the Ekweremadus will now begin on 31st January 2023.