From Eric Ikhilae, Abuja
Mrs. Ochuko Okor Momoh, wife of a former Managing Director of the Pipelines and Products Marketing Company (PPMC), Haruna Momoh, was arraigned on Monday in Abuja on money laundering charges.
Mrs. Momoh was arraigned at a Federal High Court with five others on a 22-count charge filed against them by the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC).
The others are: Mrs. Blessing Azuka-Agozi, StanbicIBTC Bank Plc, Energopol Nigeria Limited, Blaid Construction Limited aand Blaid Farms Limited.
Mrs. Momoh allegedly laundered funds estimated at over N2 billion by using her companies – Blaid Construction and Blaid Farms – while her husband headed the PPMC, a subsidiary of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), between 2012 and 2013.
She was also accused of refusing to honour the invitation of ICPC investigators probing the matter.
Mrs. Azuka-Agozi was alleged to have, while serving as the Company Secretary of Energopol Nigeria Limited, reneged in 2016 on her pledge to provide ICPC’s investigators with documents on the contracts her company allegedly executed for PPMC and for which it was allegedly paid huge sums.
StanbicIBTC was accused of failing to report suspicious transactions in the accounts of Blaid Construction and Blaid Farms to relevant authorities, as required by law.
While both women pleaded not guilty when the charge was read to them, the court, acting under the provision of Section 478 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA), recorded not guilty plea for the four companies.
At the conclusion of the arraignment, lawyers to the defendants, including Ade Adedeji (SAN), urged the court to grant bail to their clients on self-recognition.
Adedeji said Mrs. Momoh was ready to stand trial and would not jump bail because she was eager to clear her name and retrieve her assets, including bank accounts seized by the prosecution.
Lead prosecuting lawyer Osuobeni Akponisimingha did not oppose the defendants’ request for bail, but urged the court to ensure that they were available for trial.
Ruling, Justice Taiwo Taiwo granted bail to both women: he granted bail to Mrs. Momoh at N2 million with two sureties in like sum, while Mrs. Azuka-Agozi got bail at N1 million with a surety.
The judge ordered that one of Mrs. Momoh’s sureties must be a Grade Level 15 official of a Federal Government’s agency, who must deposit his recent passport with the court.
Justice Taiwo adjourned till May 19 for trial.