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N2bn fraud: Court strikes out charge against 4 Bayelsa govt officials

Justice Donatus Okorowo of a Federal High Court in Abuja, yesterday, struck out a six count criminal charge filed against four Bayelsa state government officials by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.

The court terminated the case after counsel to the anti graft agency, Mr Festus Keyamo, informed the court that he had been asked to withdraw the substantive charge against them.

He told the court that the EFCC decided to withdraw the case to enable it re-arraign only three of them on amended charges bothering on fraud and illegal diversion of public funds totalling N2 billion. That the Accountant General of Bayelsa state , Mr Francis Okokuro, one of those standing trial, has been discharged by the agency.

Keyamo said the Bayelsa state AG was discharged from trial after he agreed to stand as proswecution witness against the accused person.

He secured leave of court yesterday to re arraign the other accused persons over an amended six_count criminal charge.
Those who took turns to plead not guilty to the charges preferred against them by the EFCC were the Director of Treasury in Bayelsa state government house, Mr Abbot T. Clinton, the Director of Finance, Mr Ikobho Anthony Howells and the commissioner of Finance, Dr Charles Sylva Opuala.

Count one of the amended charge against them reads, “that you, Abot T. Clinton, Ikobho Anthony Howells and Dr. Charles Sylva Osuala on or about the 22nd of January, 2010, at Abuja, within the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court, converted the sum of N380, 000,000.00 (three Hundred and Eight Million Naira), property of the Bayelsa State Government, through the account of one Habibu Sani Maigidia, a Bureau De Change Operator with Account No.
221433478108, in Fin Bank, Plc, which sum you knew represented the proceeds of the said illegal act with the aim of concealing the nature of the proceeds of the said illegal act and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 14(1) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition Act) 2004 and also punishable under Section 14(1) of the same Act”.

Following an oral application by their counsels, Chief Chris Uche , SAN, and Mr Sunday Ameh, SAN, the accused persons were yesterday allowed to go home on the basis of an earlier bail granted to them by the High Court.


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