Court reserves ruling on alleged N700m fraud against Edo PDP chairman, others

By Ozioruva Aliu

BENIN CITY – THE Federal High Court in Benin City yesterday reserved ruling on the competence of the charges the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) brought against the chairman, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Dan Orbih, former Deputy Governor of Edo State, Mr Lucky Imasuen, a governorship aspirant of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu , a former member of the House of Representatives, Tony Azegbemi and Efe Anthony.

The EFCC alleged that the defendants received N700 Million prior to the 2015 general elections, from former Minister of Petroleum, Mrs Deziani Alison-Madueke

When the case came up for hearing yesterday for all the parties to adopt their written addresses on the defendants’ claim that the charges against them were incompetent haven included late Chief Anenih as a principal actor in the alleged illegal transaction, the EFCC
 said that it never charged Chief Tony Anenih along others.

Counsels to the defendants, in the suit No FHC/B51c/2018: Chief Ferdinand Orbih (SAN), Kingsley Obamogie, Professor George Izevbuwa, Paschal Ugbome and Ikhide Ehighelua all posited that the case against their clients should br dropped arguing that Anenih that was conspicuously mentioned in all the charges was dead.

Obamogie also told the court that the document presented by the EFCC was not properly signed as he said signature in the document was different from seal contrary to court practices which he said no insist on signing and stamping with a seal. This new practice he said has taken precedence over the previous of judicial notice. He said the improper signing and stamping queries the credibility of the charges.

On his part, Professor Izevbuwa pointed out that the EFCC lawyer, Aso Larry Peters went out of his way to formulate four issues whereas the court had earlier brought out one issue for determination.

But Larry while adopting his written address said only five persons were charged and that the name of Chief Anenih only appeared to enable it present the facts the way it is.

He they were arraigned on an eight-count charge of conspiracy with themselves to commit money laundering to the tune of N700 million, an offence contrary to section 18(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011 as amended which is punishable under section 15(3) of the same Act.
He said the defendants were alive to face trial and that the argument was a ploy to delay taking of plea by the defendants.

According to him, ‘We have a right to fair hearing. The proof of evidence is before your Lordship. Chief Anenih is not charged. His name appearing does not affect them taking plea. Our duty is to present the fact the way it is.

Presiding Judge, Justice  Mohammed Umar, fixed March 26, 2020 for ruling on the competency of the charges.

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