N4bn Fraud: Obiano To Face Trial In June


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By Anne Osemekeh, Abuja

Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court in Abuja has ruled that has fixed trial of
former governor of Anambra state, Willie Obiano, for June 24, 25,26 and 27, 2024.

This is after Justice Ekwo dismissed an application by the erstwhile governor challenging the powers of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission to prosecute him.

Obiano was arraigned on January 24, and is standing trial on nine charges bordering on alleged N4bn theft.

However, in a preliminary objection filed by the defendant through his lawyer, Onyechi Ikpeazu (SAN), he said the EFCC lacked the power to prosecute him, and urged the court to quash the instant charges against him, describing them as an abuse of court process. He added that no prima facie case had been preferred against him.

Ruling on the application on Thursday, Justice Inyang Ekwo said the application lacked merit and deserved to be dismissed.

He said security votes are paid from the Federation account as such he couldn’t stop the case of the prosecution.

“As long as the EFCC Act has not been declared unconstitutional, this court cannot stop the implementation of the act.

“The powers of the EFCC ought to be a question of law and have a bearing on the 1999 constitution.

“State security votes come from the federation account making the development a constitutional issue.

“This court has no powers to preempt the case of the prosecution, ” he held.

On the issue of proof of evidence, Ekwo said the Federal High Court is a court of summary jurisdiction in criminal proceedings.

He explained that summary jurisdiction excuses the use of proof of evidence before the commencement of trial.

“The submission of proof of evidence by the defendant is mistaken and not applicable in this court”, he said.

He also said the appeal filed by the Anambra State government referenced by the defendant had been determined in favour of the EFCC by the Supreme Court.

He, however, said the provisions of the constitution through which the application was brought have no bearing on the case.

After the ruling, Ikpeazu moved an application to vary the bail granted to the defendant, “based on the health conditions and medical appointments of the defendant”, which “usually last sixty days”.

Counsel for the EFCC, Sylvanus Tahir (SAN), said they are not opposing the application but have reservations about the 60 days he would require for treatment, noting that the trial had already been truncated.

Ruling, Ekwo said, “Prayers 2,3 and 4 are hereby granted. Defendant to return his passport upon his return.”


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