Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court in Abuja has fixed February 6 next year for ruling on an application by a former governor of Imo State, Senator Rochas Okorocha, seeking to quash the 17-count criminal charge slammed against him by the Federal Government.
Okorocha is being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission over N3.1 billion fraud allegedly committed during his tenure as governor of Imo, claimed in his application that the charge was an abuse of court process.
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. The defendants pleaded not guilty to the charge.
Trial court judge, Justice Ekwo, fixed the date on Friday, after counsel in the matter adopted their written addresses and other processes as their final arguments.
Ola Olanipekun, SAN, who announced 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, pleaded the trial judge to find and hold that the motion on notice filed by the 1st 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 court process.
In opposition to the application, the prosecution counsel told the court that the 5th defendant cannot benefit from a judgement it was not part of.
Recall that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission 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 a N500 million bail and a surety in likes 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.
The bail condition restricted Okorocha from travelling out of the country without the permission of the court, as he had deposited his International Passport with the court.
The court gave the bail condition to Okorocha available in the court to face his trial adding that
the defendants:, 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.
They committed the said offence when they knew that the money 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.
Part of the charge also read: “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.”