EFCC accuses Obiano of evading court process

Friday Ajagunna
Friday Ajagunna
Willie Obiano

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has accused a former governor of Anambra State, Willie Obiano, of evading the service of court process.

The counsel for the commission, Sylvanus Tahir, disclosed this to the court on Thursday during proceedings.

On January 24, the EFCC arraigned the former governor on nine charges bordering on alleged money laundering to the tune of N4bn.

In the charges, the EFCC accused Obiano of diverting Anambra State’s security votes to the tune of N4,008,573,350 while he was governor between 2014 and 2022.

The counsel for the prosecution said efforts to serve the defendant’s reply to his motion have been futile.

He said, “In compliance with the order of the court made on Monday, we filed a counter affidavit to oppose the bid by Obiano to challenge the territorial jurisdiction of the court to prosecute him, but our efforts have been to no avail.”

Tahir said his team was on Wednesday at the Chamber of Obaino’s counsel, Onyechi Ikpeazu (SAN) but that the gate to the office was locked.

He said he phoned two of the defendant’s lawyers, but he was told they were at a Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal.

He said that, as a result, he was only able to serve the counter affidavit on the defendant inside the courtroom on Thursday.

He asked the court to proceed to hear the motion of the former governor challenging the territorial jurisdiction of the court along with the counter affidavit.

However, Patrick Ikweto (SAN), who represented Obiano at Thursday’s proceedings told the court he was served the counter affidavit in the courtroom.

He pleaded for an adjournment to enable him to respond to the EFCC’s counter affidavit.

Justice Inyang Ekwo subsequently adjourned the matter till March 13 for a hearing of Obiano’s motion.

However, in the motion on notice by the former governor’s counsel, Onyechi Ikpeazu (SAN) dated March 3, he informed the court of an appeal by the Anambra State Government challenging the EFCC’s authority to investigate the funds.

Ikpeazu said, “The subject matter of the charge bothers on accountability for security votes funds; The honourable court lacks the requisite jurisdiction to entertain issues on accountability for security votes funds;

“There is an appeal filed by the Anambra State Government challenging the powers of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission to investigate the security vote of the Anambra State Government

“The preferment of the entire charge is in bad faith.”

Ikepazu stated that there was no testimony from any witness indicating that he issued directives for the disbursement of security votes and other funds belonging to the Anambra state government

He said, “No evidence exists from any witness showing that Defendant/Applicant passed down directives on the disbursements of security votes and other funds belonging to Anambra State Government,

“The defendant/applicant cannot be made answerable for any purported unlawful actions of officials of Anambra State Government, as there is no vicarious liability in our criminal jurisprudence;

“The thinking and conclusion of the prosecution on the counts arose from speculation and suspicion. This honourable court has inherent judicial powers to grant all the reliefs sought above.”

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