Metro

Court fixes March 7 for hearing of Obiano’s alleged N4bn fraud case

Justice Inyang Ekwo of a Federal High Court, on Monday fixed March 7 to hear a motion filed by former Anambra State Governor, Willie Obiano, challenging the jurisdiction of the court to hear the alleged N4 billion fraud charge filed against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, (EFCC).
Obiano was arraigned on January 24 on a nine-count charge bordering on alleged money laundering to the tune of N4 billion.
The former governor pleaded not guilty to the charges brought against him.
During the proceedings on Monday, counsel to Obiano, Mr Onyechi Ikpeazu, SAN, informed the court that he had filed a motion challenging jurisdiction on behalf of his client.
Counsel to the EFCC, Mr Sylvanus Tahir, SAN, however, said that he had yet to file a reply to the motion because he was served on Monday morning in court.
Moreover, Tahir said that the issue on jurisdiction had been settled by the Supreme Court that once the charge bordered on money laundering, the Federal High Court had inherent jurisdiction to try it.
The trial judge, Justice Ekwo advised the prosecutor to do his part by filing his response to the motion.
“It is not for you to tell the court the Supreme Court’s decision on the issue. Respond to the motion and leave the court to decide.”
Obiano was accused to have allegedly diverted money from the state’s account dedicated to security funds in his last five years in office.
According to the charges, the former governor allegedly directed the diversion of the total N4 billion from the state’s account between April 2017 and March 2022, and spent the money for purposes unconnected to the security affairs of Anambra.
The funds, according to EFCC, were diverted through companies that had no business relationship with the Anambra State government, converted to dollars and handed over to the former governor in dollars.
The case, filed by EFCC detailed the nine companies allegedly used for diverting the funds from the state government’s security vote account.
Each of the nine counts disclosed the amount a company received and the period it received it from the state government’s account.
In count one of the charge, the EFCC alleged that from Feb. 16, 2018 to March 9, 2018, an aggregate sum of N223,371,000 was paid from the security vote account into the account of Connought International Services Limited.
The anti-graft agency alleged in count 2 that from Oct. 30, 2018 to Nov.13 2018, a total sum of N95 million was paid from the security vote account into the bank account of S.Y. Panda Enterprises.

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