A Rivers state High Court sitting in Port Harcourt has issued a bench warrant on the former leader of the Rivers State House of Assembly, Chidi Lloyd.
The trial judge, Justice Chiwendu Nworgu gave the order following Chidi Lloyd’s absence in court to take his plea on two count charges of murder and disruption of public peace against him.
According to Daily Post, when the fresh charges were read in court, neither the accused nor his counsel were present in court, but a letter from the defence counsel on his reasons for absence was read by the judge which was objected by counsel to Rivers State Government under section 35 of Administration Of Criminal Justice Act of the state.
After listening to the argument by the state counsel, Justice Nworgu issued the bench warrant against Lloyd and ordered the Commissioner of Police to arrest, detain and produce the accused person in Court on the next adjourned date.
Speaking to newsmen outside the courtroom, counsel to the Rivers State Government, Godwin Obla, who is a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, narrated what transpired in court.
He said: ” The defendant’s absence was not excused at all. On the basis of that, we applied for bench warrants to be issued for the two different cases to compel the appearance of the defendant in court on the next adjourned date of 10th January, 2019.
“Two Bench Warrants have now been issued mandating the Commissioner of Police of Rivers State to arrest and to detain Chidi Lloyd in Port Harcourt prison till the next adjourned date and to produce the defendant in court on the next adjourned date.
“The matter was to today at their instance. We are in court again, the defendant is not in court and his counsel is not in court. His counsel has not written to the court to excuse his absence.
“Out of the abundance of caution because we know that this is a criminal trial, we decided deliberately not to proceed because if we proceed it will look like the state is just interested in infringing on the constitutional rights of the accused person. The state is interested in the expeditious and fair trial of the accused person.
“We have out of the abundance of caution applied for a short date to enable fresh hearing notice to be served on the accused person. The matter has been adjourned to the 24th of January 2018 for plea. Hearing notice will be issued and served on them. As officers of the court, we shall also do a letter to the counsel, notifying him of the new date.”
The matter was adjourned to January 9, 2019.
Recall that Justice Nworgu had dismissed an application filed by the Former Leader of the Rivers State House of Assembly, Chidi Lloyd challenging the jurisdiction of the court to try him of fresh criminal charges.
Chidi Lloyd is facing charges of attempted murder after using the Assembly mace to hit a fellow lawmaker, Michael Chinda during a free for all at the Rivers State House of Assembly complex in 2013.