By Magnus Effiong
The Cross River State High Court has ordered the Nigerian Police to arrest and produce a retired Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIG), Joseph Mbu, at its next sitting on January 9, 2023 for reluctance to appear in person in court over an alleged murder case dangling menacingly over his head.
Recall that the State government had, early this year, arraigned the former AIG over the alleged murder of one late Ayuk Etta Ngon, at Bendeghe-Ekiem, Etung local government area of the state on December 24, 2018.
According to a charge sheet in Suit No: HC/40C/2021: “Mbu Joseph Mbu, on the 24th of December, 2018, along Ndung Stream road, Bendeghe Ekiem, Etung, killed one Ayuk Etta Ngon, contrary to section 319 (1) of the Criminal Code, Cap C16, Vol. 3 Laws of Cross River State of Nigeria 2004.”
But, the retired Police officer had reportedly been reluctant to appear in court in person since the commencement of the case but had always been represented by his counsel despite the court calling for his appearance.
Due to this, the court had on November 2, 2022 issued the first warrant of arrest on him and adjourned the case to December 6, 2022.
However, the police could not produce its former officer on Tuesday, December 6, 2022 as demanded and neither could it give reasons why AIG Mbu (rtd) was not in court.
The prosecutors, in their submission, said information at their disposals is that “the Police claimed they cannot find him,” adding “Since the Police in Calabar cannot locate AIG Mbu’s whereabout, the AIG Zone Six and possibly, the Inspector General of Police, IGP, should be told to produce the defendant in court to answer for his crimes.”
The presiding Judge, Justice Ukpai Ibitam, then gave a fresh warrant of arrest on the defendant, and therefore adjourned the case to January 9, 2023.
He called on the Nigerian Police to ensure the retired police officer is arrested and produced in court on that day for the interest of all the parties in the matter.
Efforts to contact AIG Mbu for his part of the story could not sail through as his mobile line could not connect as at press time.
Recall that the defendant had some months ago, through his counsel, objected to his arraignment.
His counsel, Agan Anna Esq, had in February, objected to the jurisdiction of the court in Calabar to hear the matter, saying since the alleged crime was said to have been committed in Etung which also has a State High Court, then the matter should be heard in Etung Judicial division.
“The second issue is that necessary investigation had not been conducted by the Police before the prosecution decided to bring the matter to court. The information presented by the prosecution is defective in substance,” the defense counsel had submitted.
But the Prosecution team had argued that they have a right to file any matter against any individual whether the Police investigated it or not, and that the High Court of the State remains one.