ABUJA – There was drama yesterday at the Federal High Court, Abuja Division as armed security operatives struggled to arrest a legal practitioner, Okeke Nnodu who allegedly defrauded his client, a retired Army officer.
A team of security operatives comprising plain clothes policemen, the regular police officers and some armed anti-riot policemen had laid siege at the court to await Nnodu’s arrival.
As he made his way through the steps after going pass the security post to the third floor of the court building, the security men pounced on him after the alleged victim, Colonel Jeff Onyejegbu (retired) identified him.
However, Nnodu was able to wriggle out of the grips of the security men and he ran into one of the court rooms, followed in hot pursuit by the security men and the colonel, who all retreated at the entrance, wary of breaching the sanctity of the court.
While others waited at the corridor leading to the entrance of Court Seven, Onyejegbu went closer and when he peeped into the court and saw that the court was not sitting, the retired soldier went into the courtroom and pulled Nnodu out.
His action attracted the sympathy of other lawyers in the court for Nnodu. They accused the retired soldier of acting in contempt of court and trying to embarrass a lawyer.
Even when the lawyers tried to discourage him, as Nnodu denied knowing those chasing him, Onyejegbu kept shouting that Nnodu had defrauded him and that he (the lawyer) was trying to escape arrest.
Onyejegbu brought out an arrest warrant from his pocket, insisting that the lawyer was evading arrest.
“You think you can eat my money and run away? You have been doing it to other people, but I will not allow you to do that to me. The police are waiting for you outside,” Onyejegbu kept shouting, until some of the policemen later came closer, brandishing guns and handcuff.
On sighting them, Nnodu ran again, towards another court room. He was however, stopped before he could enter the court by a policeman who outran him.
It took the policemen sometime before they could overpower the lawyer, who they literally dragged through the stairway unto the first floor and, later into a waiting vehicle packed within the court premises.
It was gathered that the lawyer alleged defrauded the retired soldier in relation to a transaction over one of his properties.
Nnodu, The Guardian learnt, was in court in respect of a separate case in which he is being tried for allegedly defrauding another person over another property deal.
The lawyer, it was learnt, was also fingered in an earlier property related dispute that resulted in the sacking of some senior officials of the Abuja High Court, and on which basis the National Judicial Council (NJC) found the court’s former Chief Judge, Justice Lawal Gummi guilty of misconduct last year.
When the case, for which Nnodu was in court, was called, the prosecution lawyer, James Nwadike told the court that the accused had been arrested in relation to a separate case.
Nwadike also told the court that he has filed a motion ex-parte in respect of Nnodu’s co-accused, Obinna Kanu. He said the Interpol was currently working on bringing him back from the United States, where he allegedly ran to.
Mrs R. I. Chris Garuba, who appeared for Nnodu, said she was appearing in the case for the first time and sought time to enable her familiarise herself with the case.
Justice Olotu adjourned to February 11 for hearing of the prosecution’s motion.
Nwadike noted that Nnodu was arraigned last year on the 10-count charge before Justice Olotu. He pleaded not guilty to the charge marked: FHC/ABJ/CR/30/2012 and in which he was accused of defrauding Chief Elochukwu Ernest in property related transactions in Abuja.
According to Nwadike, Nnodu spent about 21 days in Kuje prison, Abuja before he was recently released on bail.
He said Nnodu was in court in continuation of his trial when he was arrested by the police in relation to a separate case.