Obiano docked over alleged N4bn fraud

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), on Wednesday in Abuja, arraigned  the immediate-past governor of Anambra State, Willie Obiano, on a nine-count charge  bordering on alleged money laundering to the tune of N4 billion.

Obiano, however, pleaded not guilty to all counts when the charge was read to him.

Following the not guilty plea, the prosecuting counsel, Mr Slyvanus Tahir, SAN, prayed the court for a date for trial and asked that the former governor be remanded in custody pending the trial.

Counsel to the former governor, Mr Onyechi Ikpeazu, SAN, told the court that he had filed an application for the bail of his client which had been served on the prosecution.

The prosecuting counsel, Mr Sylvanus Tahir, SAN confirmed that  he had been served with the bail application and that the EFCC had previously granted Obiano administration bail.

Following the confirmation of bail from Tahir, Justice Ekwo said that he was adopting all the conditions of the administrative bail that the anti-graft agency had granted the former governor.

The conditions as enumerated by the prosecution include that the defendant provides two sureties who are directors in the civil service with landed property.

Obiano

The judge asked the EFCC to transfer Obiano’s international passport to the court within seven days of making the order and that he was not to travel outside the country without the permission of the court.

The judge also asked the registrar of the court to inform the Nigeria Immigration Service that Obiano’s international passport was now with the court.

Following concerns from the prosecuting counsel, the court also said that it would verify the residential addresses of Obiano’s sureties.

Justice Ekwo adjourned the matter until March 4  to March 7 for trial.

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Some of the charges against Obiano include; that ”while being the Governor of Anambra between March 2014 and March 2022,  did make cash transaction through a non-financial institution by instructing one Uzuegbuna Okagbue, your then Chief Protocol Officer / Deputy Chief of Staff to transfert aggregate sum of N223,371,000.00 million only from the Anambra Government Security Vote Account No 5030050875 domiciled at Fidelity Bank into Connought International Services Limited, Fidelity Bank Account N §540007709 (a non-financial institution).

“The money was converted to the equivalent of 600,000.00 dollars  and collected in cash from one Ayuba Tanko and handed over to you in cash by the said Uzuegbuna Okagbue and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 (as amended) in 2012 and punishable under Section 16 (2) (b) of the same Act.

 “That you, Willie Obiano, whilst being the executive governor of Anambra  between March 2014 and  March 2022, sometime between Feb. 7, 2018 to Feb.18, 2019 in Abuja, within the jurisdiction of this court, indirectly transferred through Mr Willie Nwokoye, your then principal private secretary, the sum of N156,800.00 million only from the Anambra Government Security Vote Account No: 5030050875 domiciled in Fidelity Bank Plc into the Fidelity Bank Plc Account No: 6060018819 belonging to C.I. Patty Ventures Nigeria Limited (an entity that had no business relationship with the Anambra S Government).

“The  funds were dissipated for purposes unrelated / unconnected with the security affairs of Anambra  which you reasonably ought to have known that such funds formed part of the proceeds of your unlawful act, to wit: (Stealing and Corruption) and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 15 (2) (b) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 (as amended) in 2012 and punishable under Section 15 (3) of the same Act.

“That you, Willie Obiano, whilst being the executive governor of Anambra  between March 2014 and March 2022, sometime between Aug.9, 2017 to March 4, 2020 in Abuja, within the jurisdiction of this court, indirectly transferred through Mr Willie Nwokoye, your then principal private secretary, the sum of N261,268,585.00 million only from the Anambra  Government Security Vote Account No: 5030050875 domiciled in Fidelity Bank Plc into the Fidelity Bank Plc Account No: 5600062873 belonging to Easy Diamond Integrated Link (an entity that had no business relationship with the Anambra  Government).

” The funds were dissipated for purposes unrelated/unconnected with the security affairs of Anambra  which you reasonably ought to have known that such funds formed part of the proceeds of your unlawful act, to wit: (stealing and corruption) and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 15 (2) (b) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 (as amended) in 2012 and punishable under Section 15 (3) of the same Act.”

Obiano was first arrested at the Murtala Muhammad International Airport, Lagos, on March 17, 2022, while preparing to board a flight to the U.S.

At the time of his arrest, he was no longer governor and as such had lost his immunity from arrest and prosecution.

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