Alleged N3.1b fraud: Court to rule on Okorocha’s plea to quash charge February 6
A Federal High Court Abuja has fixed February 6, 2023, for ruling on an application by a former governor of Imo State, Senator Rochas Okorocha, seeking to quash the 17-count criminal charge preferred against him by the Federal Government.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is prosecuting the former governor over an alleged N3.1 billion fraud.
The former governor was arraigned alongside Anyim Nyerere, Naphtali International Ltd, Perfect Finish Multi Projects Ltd, Consolid Projects Consulting Ltd, Pramif International Ltd and Legend World Concepts Ltd.
Justice Inyang Ekwo fixed the date yesterday after counsel in the matter adopted their written addresses and other processes as their final arguments.
Ola Olanipekun (SAN), who announced their appearance for Okorocha, having adopted all his processes, urged the court to grant the application and quash the charge.
On his part, the EFCC lawyer, K. N. Ugwu, prayed the trial judge to find and hold that the Motion on Notice filed by the first defendant (Okorocha), seeking to quash the charge, lacks merit and should be dismissed accordingly.
Similarly, Darlington Ozurumba, representing Consolid Projects Consulting Ltd (5th defendant), also adopted his Motion on Notice and urged Justice Ekwo to quash and dismiss the entire suit for being an abuse of the court process.
In opposition to the application, the prosecution counsel told the court that the fifth defendant could not benefit from a judgment it was not part of.
Recall that the EFCC is prosecuting the former governor and six others on a 17-count charge, bordering on conspiracy, stealing, conversion of public funds and money laundering to the tune of N3,147, 000, 000.
Okorocha is the current senator representing Imo West Senatorial District in the National Assembly. He is currently under N500 million bail and a surety in like sum.
Before granting Okorocha bail, the court directed that the surety must be a responsible citizen of the country, resident in Abuja, and must have property worth the bail amount within the jurisdiction of the court.
According to Justice Ekwo, Okorocha must not travel out of the country without the permission of the court, must deposit his International Passport with the court and must make himself available in the court to face his trial and the second defendant, Nyerere Anyim (a.k.a Anyim Chinenye) should continue to enjoy the administrative bail earlier granted him by the EFCC for exhibiting good conduct while on bail.
Some of the charges read: “That you, Rochas Okorocha, Anyim Nyerere and Naphtali International Ltd, on or about the 24th October 2014, at Abuja within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court converted the sum of N900,000,000 property of Imo State Government of Nigeria transferred from the Imo State Government House Account, which you all reasonably ought to have known formed part of the proceeds of an unlawful act, to wit: stealing and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 15(2)(b) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011, (as amended) and punishable under Section 15(3) of the Same Act.
“That You, Rochas Okorocha, Anyim Nyerere and Perfect Finish Multi Projects Ltd, on or about 28th August 2014, at Abuja within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court converted the sum of N486,000,000 property of Imo State Government of Nigeria, transferred from the Imo State Joint State Local government Project Account, which you all reasonably ought to have known formed part of the proceeds of an unlawful act, to wit: stealing and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 15(2)(b) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 (as amended) and punishable under Section 15(3) of the same Act”.