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Court Vacates Warrant Of Arrest Against Lagos Speaker

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Speaker of Lagos State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Adeyemi Ikuforiji, has won the sympathy of the Federal High Court, sitting in Ikoyi as well as the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) with his appearance in court on Thursday, just as

 the court has vacated the warrant of arrest it earlier issued against him and his personal aide, Bode Atoyebi.

Ikuforiji, who was earlier believed to have been evading arrest, stormed the court with members of the State House of Assembly and his sympathisers as early as 8.30am in a bid to prove that he was a responsible Nigerian who would not toy with the law.

This worked for him as a judgement against the warrant was passed in his favour by the presiding judge, Justice James Tsoho.

In his judgement, Justice Tsoho said that the bench warrant of arrest earlier issued was struck out since the accused persons decided to voluntarily appear at the court rather than wait to be arrested.

He also said the Speaker would present himself at the Ikoyi Road, Lagos office of the EFCC on December 19, 2011 and also make himself available for arraignment on January 17, 2012 as agreed by the prosecution counsel and counsel to the Speaker.

Presenting his case earlier, counsel to the Speaker, Tayo Oyetibo (SAN), who led other senior lawyers for the Ikuforiji and his personal aide, argued that their clients were not served any summon by the court before the bench warrant of arrest was issued against them. He argued that they would have made themselves available for prosecution if they got the summon.

He further explained that the accused persons, being law abiding citizens, came to the court voluntarily and were never summoned to appear before the court. He thus asked the court to vacate the warrant against the accused since they would make themselves available to the office of EFCC on December 19 and would also be present for arraignment on the adjourned date.

"The purpose of the warrant of arrest was to compel them to appear before the court and since they have voluntarily done that, there is no need for bench warrant to be instituted against them and that is why we filed application to revoke the warrant," he told the court.

Counsel to the EFCC, Godwin Obla, who did not object to the argument of Oyetibo, agreed that the warrant was to compel them to appear in court. He described Ikuforiji as a responsible man who is known to be obedient to the law.

"Now that they physically appeared, it will be unnecessary to engage in further academic exercise especially in the light of the withdrawal they have filed before your lordship. Now that they have physically appeared before the court, the purpose of bench warrant has been achieved. As a sign of our good faith to this matter, we have agreed that we have no objection to the warrant of arrest to be invoked.'