By Marcus Ikechukwu
Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court Abuja has fixed November 25 to hear the preliminary objection filed by a former governor of Imo state, Senator Rochas Okorocha, in his ongoing trial over alleged N3.1 billion fraud.
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.
At a resumed sitting on Tuesday, Okorocha’s counsel, Ola Olanipekun SAN, told the court that the day’s business was for hearing a motion on notice seeking to quash the 17-count charge slammed against Okorocha by the Federal Government.
But reacting to the development, the prosecution counsel, Farouk Abdallah, said he had filed a counter affidavit to the first defendant’s motion on notice and was served with a reply in court Tuesday morning.
However, Olanipekun explained he served the reply on Tuesday because the prosecution’s counter affidavit was served on him late Friday.
Given the development, the trial judge, Justice Ekwo, adjourned the matter till Friday to take the preliminary objections to Okorocha’s motion on notice seeking the quashing of the charges filed against him.
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 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.
According to Justice Ekwo, Okorocha must not travel out of the country without the permission of the court, must deposit his International Passport with the court and must make himself available in the court to face his trial and the second defendant, Nyerere Anyim (a.k.a Anyim Chinenye) should continue to enjoy the administrative bail earlier granted him by the EFCC for exhibiting good conduct while on bail.
Some of the counts read, “That you, 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, 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.
“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”.