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Ex-Gov Obiano to face trial for alleged N4bn theft, as court denies his application



In a setback for Willie Obiano, a Federal High Court in Abuja on Thursday dismissed his application seeking to quash corruption charges against him.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had leveled nine charges against Obiano, the former governor of Anambra State, alleging misappropriation of N4 billion.

Obiano, who was arraigned on January 24, is standing trial on nine charges bordering on alleged N4bn theft.

But in a preliminary objection filed by the defendant through his lawyer, Onyechi Ikpeazu (SAN), he said the EFCC lacked the power to prosecute him.

He also urged the court to quash the instant charges against him, describing them as an abuse of court process

Ruling on the application on Thursday, Justice Inyang Ekwo said the application lacked merit and deserved to be dismissed.

Ekwo said security votes are paid from the Federation account, adding that he couldn’t stop the case of the prosecution.

Read Also: Tinubu rebuffs ex-Gov Yahaya Bello, as AGF Fagbemi asks him to submit self to EFCC

“As long as the EFCC Act has not been declared unconstitutional, this court cannot stop the implementation of the act.

“The powers of the EFCC ought to be a question of law and have a bearing on the 1999 constitution.

“State security votes come from the federation account making the development a constitutional issue.

“This court has no powers to preempt the case of the prosecution,” he held.

On the issue of proof of evidence, Ekwo said the Federal High Court is a court of summary jurisdiction in criminal proceedings.

After the ruling, Ikpeazu moved an application to vary the bail granted to the defendant.

“This is based on the Health conditions and medical appointments of the defendant. His treatments usually last sixty days. He will comply with the conditions set by my lord,” Ikpeazu added.

Ruling, Ekwo said, “Prayers 2,3 and 4 are hereby granted. Defendant to return his passport upon his return.”

The judge adjourned till 24, 25, 26, 27 June for trial.

Obiano’s defense team had challenged the EFCC’s authority to prosecute him, arguing for a dismissal of the case. However, the court ruled in favor of the EFCC, paving the way for a full trial.

This decision marks a significant development in the ongoing saga surrounding Obiano’s tenure.

The trial is expected to delve deeper into the financial dealings of the Obiano administration. Key questions will likely focus on the disbursement of N4 billion and whether Obiano personally benefited from any alleged misappropriation.

This case will be closely watched by Nigerians, particularly those in Anambra State. Obiano’s tenure was marked by both infrastructural development and accusations of corruption.

The trial’s outcome could have significant political ramifications, potentially impacting future elections and public trust in leadership.

It’s important to note that Obiano maintains his innocence. The trial process will allow him to present his defense and challenge the EFCC’s evidence. Only after due process can a definitive conclusion be reached regarding the allegations.

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