Former governor of Enugu State, Dr. Chimaroke Nnamani, has approached the Federal High Court in Lagos asking it to perpetually restrain the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) from inviting, arresting or further prosecuting him.
The action of the former governor was in connection with an alleged N5.3 billion criminal charge leveled against him, his erstwhile aide, Sunday Anyaogu, and six companies by the anti-graft commission.
Counsel to Nnamani, Shamsudeen Abubakar, from the chambers of Mr. Rickey Tarfa (SAN), in an application brought before Justice Chuka Obiozor, on Thursday prayed for an “order of perpetual injunction restraining the complainant/respondent whether by itself, agent, privies or any other person deriving power, command, authority, instruction or directive from the complainant/respondent from inviting, interrogating, investigating, arresting, maintaining or otherwise prosecuting the accused person in respect of the offences contained in Charge No: FHC/L/09C/2007 – Federal Republic of Nigeria Vs. Chimaroke Nnamani & Ors – in its original or amended form.”
The former governor further asked the trial judge to set aside the warrant issued for his arrest last week, adding in his application that he had before now entered into a plea bargain with the Federal Government leading to the companies charged along with him forfeiting their assets.
Nnamani is said to be bedridden in a United States hospital. He had also underwent a major heart surgery abroad in 2003.
He said in the application through his lawyer, “In view of the 1st accused/applicant’s inability to stand trial without jeopardising his life in the process, he was advised by his lawyers to consider settling outside of court in order to adequately take care of his grave ill health.”
Nnamani, Anyaogu, and the six companies were charged with alleged N5.3 billion fraud in 2007. However, Justice Mohammed Yunusa, who was handling the case then, had on March 25, 2015 granted the prayer of the EFCC to try Nnamani and Anyaogu separately from the six companies.
Counsel for the EFCC, Kelvin Uzozie, had then argued in his application that the case was not moving due to the ill health of Nnamani, who had to take court’s permission on several occasions to travel abroad.
Subsequently, the six companies, Rainbownet Nigeria Limited, Hillgate Nigeria Limited, Cosmo FM, Capital City Automobile Nigeria Limited, Renaissance University Teaching Hospital and Mea Mater Elizabeth High School, were on May 19, 2015 re-arraigned on amended 10 counts.
Tarfa, who represented the company, entered a guilty plea for them and on July 7, 2015, the assets and funds of four of the companies, Renaissance University Teaching Hospital; Cosmos FM; Capital City Automobile Nigeria Limited, all in Enugu; and Rainbownet Nigeria Limited, were forfeited to the Federal Government.
The schedule filed by the EFCC showed that the companies’ assets were worth over N5 billion, while the amount standing to their credit in 64 banks was estimated at N34.8 million.
Following the forfeiture of the companies’ assets, Justice Yunusa adjourned proceedings in respect of the rest of the defendants in the case till November 12, 2015.
It was not until November 30, 2017, that the matter came up again and this time before Justice Obiozor as Justice Yunusa had been suspended.
Justice Obiozor had slated December 4 2017, for the re-arraignment of the defendants. On the fixed date both Nnamani and Anyaogu were absent from court, a situation that led the judge to issue a bench warrant against them and ordering that they should be produced before him on December 14, 2017.
When the matter came up in court on Thursday, December 14, Anyaogu was in court but Nnamani, was again absent.
While Justice Obiozor vacated the bench warrant against Anyaogu, he insisted that the bench warrant against Nnamani remained.
He later adjourned the matter till January 19, 2018 for re-arraignment of the defendants and to hear Nnamani’s application seeking a perpetual injunction against the EFCC.
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