Home Nigeria Alleged N4bn fraud: Obiano, loses bid to stop trial

Alleged N4bn fraud: Obiano, loses bid to stop trial

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tribuneonlineng.com

A Federal High Court in Abuja on Thursday dismissed the application by a former Governor of Anambra State, Willie Maduabuchi Obiano seeking to quash the N4 billion money laundering charges brought against him by the federal government.

The trial Judge, Justice Inyang Ekwo, in a ruling delivered on the application, faulted and rejected all grounds upon which the Obiano hinged his application.

The former governor had amongst others, prayed the Judge to dismiss the 9-count charges instituted against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on behalf of the federal government.

He claimed that there was no connection between the proof of evidence supplied to the court by the EFCC and the accusations against him.

The former governor said, there was no testimony from any witness indicating that he issued directives for the disbursement of security votes and other funds belonging to the Anambra State government.

Obiano also claimed that he cannot be held accountable for any alleged unlawful actions by officials of the Anambra State government as there is no concept of vicarious liability in the criminal justice system.

Among others, Obiano sought, “An order of the court quashing the instant charge for it amounts to flagrant abuse of judicial process and a mockery of the criminal Justice

“An order quashing the charge for non-disclosure of a prime facie case, being vague and devoid of precision in respect of all the 9 – 9-count charges.

“No prima facie case has been disclosed against the defendant in this charge. There is no link between the proof of evidence and the purported allegation made against the defendant in the charge

“No evidence exists from any witness showing that the defendant passed down a directive for the disbursement of security votes and other funds belonging to Anambra State government.

“The defendant cannot be made answerable for any purported unlawful actions of officials of Anambra State government as there is no vicarious liability in our criminal jurisprudence.

“The thinking and conclusion of the prosecution on the counts arose from speculation and suspicions. The subject matter of the charge borders on accountability for security vote funds.

The honourable court lacks the requisite jurisdiction to entertain issues on accountability for security vote funds

“There is an appeal filed by the Anambra state government challenging the powers of EFCC to investigate the security vote of Anambra state government.

“The preferment of the entire charge is in bad faith. This honourable court has inherent judicial power to grant all the reliefs sought above”.

But in the ruling, Justice Ekwo held that all the reliefs sought by Obiano are not grantable because they are premature and lacking in merit.

The Judge held that, there is no way the court would know whether the former governor is linked with the alleged offences or not unless the trial is conducted in line with the provisions of the law.

The former governor is being prosecuted by EFCC on 9-count charges bordering on money laundering to the tune of N4 billion.

Meanwhile, the Judge has fixed June 24, 25, 26 and 27 for trial and granted  Obiano 60 days permission to travel abroad for medical treatment.

The Judge ordered that Obiano be made to sign an undertaking to return to the country after the treatment and to deposit his travelling passport within three days of his return to Nigeria.

The former governor is being prosecuted by the EFCC on nine-count charges bordering on money laundering to the tune of N4 billion.

The anti-graft agency alleged that, Obiano bypassed financial institutions in numerous unlawful cash transactions using funds allegedly stolen from the state’s account and that, the amount of cash involved in the transactions exceeded the legally permitted limits.

Obiano pleaded not guilty to the charges preferred against him by the EFCC.

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