CrimeHighlight

Alleged ₦4bln fraud: Ex-Anambra governor, Obiano, arraigned, enters ‘not-guilty’ plea

....as case is adjourned until March 4, 6, and 7 for the continuation of the trial

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“The judge said Obiano should enjoy bail on the administrative terms granted earlier by the EFCC”

The immediate past governor of Anambra State, Mr. Willie Obiano, has pleaded not guilty to the money laundering charges slammed against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

The 68-year-old was arraigned on Wednesday before Justice Inyang Ekwo of a Federal High Court in Abuja.

Obiano is being arraigned on nine counts of alleged N4 billion fraud while serving as governor of the Southeast State from March 2014 to March 2022.

Some of the charges against Obiano by EFCC read: “That you, Chief Willie Maduabuchi Obiano, whilst being the executive governor of Anambra State of Nigeria between March 2014 – March 2022, sometime between February 7, 2018 to February 18, 2019, in Abuja, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, indirectly transferred through Mr Willie Nwokoye, your then principal private secretary, the sum of N156,800,000 from the Anambra State Government Security Vote Account No: 5030050875 domiciled in Fidelity Bank Pic 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 State Government), 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, Chief Willie Maduabuchi Obiano, whilst being the executive governor of Anambra State of Nigeria between March 2014 — March 2022, sometime between 9th August, 2017 to 4th March, 2020 in Abuja, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, indirectly transferred through Mr Willie Nwokoye, your then principal private secretary, the sum of N261,268,585.00 from the Anambra State 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 State Government), which funds were dissipated for purposes unrelated / unconnected with the security affairs of Anambra State, 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.”

Ruling on the applications, Justice Inyang Ekwo granted bail to the ex-governor.

On arraignment, EFCC counsel, Mr. Sylvanus Tahir (SAN), urged the court to remand the defendant in custody pending the commencement of trial.

However, Obiano’s counsel, Mr. Onyinyechi Ikpeazu (SAN), asked the court to grant bail to the defendant.

In his ruling, the judge said Obiano should enjoy bail on the administrative terms granted earlier by the EFCC.

He added that the defendant’s international passport should be transmitted to the court within 10 days and ordered the Registrar to notify the Nigerian Immigration Service of the development.

Justice Ekwo subsequently adjourned the case until March 4, 6, and 7 for the continuation of the trial.

Persecondnews recalls that the ex-governor was arrested at the Murtala Muhammad International Airport, Lagos, on March 17, 2022, when he was preparing to board a flight to Houston, the United States of America, a few hours after he left office as governor.

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