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Court frees Okorocha on N2.9bn fraud charges



Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court, Abuja, on Monday, discharged the former Imo State governor, Rochas Okorocha, on the N2.9 billion fraud charge filed against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

The commission had on May 30 last year arraigned the former governor and six others, including a member of the All Progressives Congress (APC), on a 17-count charge of fraud.

The EFCC alleged that Okorocha conspired with other defendants to steal the funds from the Imo State coffers during his time as governor of the state.

The defendants later denied the charges.

In his ruling, the judge dismissed the case for contravening section 105 (3) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA), 2015.

The section gives the attorney-general of the federation the power to recall a case for review.

The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, had in September last year directed the EFCC to forward the case file and its comments on the matter for review.

READ ALSO: Okorocha asks court to dismiss EFCC’s N2.9bn fraud charges against him

Justice Ekwo declared that the EFCC ceased to have the legal authority to prosecute or continue the prosecution of the case from the moment the AGF demanded the case file from the commission.

He also held that the Imo West senator cannot be made to stand trial following the December 6, 2021 ruling of the Federal High Court, Port Harcourt, which stopped his prosecution after faulting the probe process.

Justice Ekwo said: “All that the law required of the respondent (EFCC) was for the respondent, when directed by the Honorable Attorney-General of the Federation (HAGF) pursuant to any enactment, to comply and not act as if it is not under the law or is exempted thereby.

“For the avoidance of doubt, the office of the HAGF is founded on the provisions of the constitution and is thereby preserved.

“The controversies and drama surrounding this trial proceeding are needless and it is time to stop it.

“In other words, the intervention of the HAGF in any criminal proceeding ends the authority of the prosecuting agency in the matter unless otherwise directed by the HAGF.

“In the end, I find that non-compliance by the respondent with the directive of the HAGF as stated in Exhibit Okorocha 7 is fatal to this proceeding and has rendered it a nullity.”

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