Nigerian News

EFCC can’t prosecute me in Abuja for crimes I allegedly committed in Anambra – Obiano tells court

Former Governor Willie Obiano has argued before a Federal High Court in Abuja that he cannot be prosecuted in the Federal Capital Territory for fraud-related offences he allegedly committed in Anambra State.

He asked the judge to decline jurisdiction to try the fraud charges and to direct the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, (EFCC) to transfer its prosecution case to the appropriate state.

Obiano, who served two terms as Anambra governor was arraigned by the EFCC over alleged embezzlement of state funds amounting to N40 billion.

At Monday’s proceedings, the EFCC lawyer, Sylvanus Tahir informed the court that he had three witnesses to present against the governor for the trial.

But Obiano, through his lawyer, Dr Onyechi Ikpeazu, said he filed a motion challenging the jurisdiction of the court to conduct the trial in Abuja by the EFCC.

He insisted that the appropriate place to determine the money laundering charges instituted against him must be considered and resolved before any trial could commence.

The EFCC lawyer confirmed to the court that the defendant served him with the said motion on notice, describing Obiano’s motion as a “Blatant waste of time”. But Justice Inyang Ekwo interjected and asked him to allow the court to decide the motion on its merit.

Part of the charge reads, “that Chief Willie Maduabuchi Obiano, whilst being the executive governor of Anambra State between March 2014 — March 2022, sometime between 9th August, 2017 to 4th March, 2020 in Abuja, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, indirectly transferred through Mr Willie Nwokoye, your then principal private secretary, the sum of N261,268,585.00 only from the Anambra State Government Security Vote Account into the account belonging to Easy Diamond Integrated Link (an entity that had no business relationship with the Anambra State Government), which funds were dissipated for purposes unrelated / unconnected with the security affairs of Anambra State, which you reasonably ought to have known that such funds formed part of the proceeds of your unlawful act, to wit: (Stealing and Corruption) and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 15 (2) (b) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 (as amended) in 2012 and punishable under Section 15 (3) of the same Act.”

Subsequently, prosecution and defence lawyers agreed to return to court on Thursday and exchange processes relating to the motion on notice. Justice Ekwo thereafter adjourned the case to March 7.