By Tony Edike
ENUGU – FORMER Governor of Enugu State, Dr. Chimaroke Nnamani, and five others were yesterday arraigned at the state High Court by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, which accused them of allegedly defrauding the state government of over N1 billion through road contracts not executed.
The 15-count charge brought against the former governor and outgoing Senator representing Enugu East all bordered on road contracts said to have been awarded but not executed after contract sums were allegedly collected by the contractors.
Others charged with Nnamani were Chief Jacob Nwatu and two of his companies, JAC Enterprises Nigeria Limited and JETNA Nigeria Limited; as well as Rainbownet Elecommunications and Hillgate Nigeria Limited, said to be owned by the former governor.
However, supporters of the former governor besieged the premises of the court complex built by his administration during the arraignment, yesterday, chanting the various slogans of his Ebeano political family as a show of solidarity with their leader.
Some of them who could not hold back their tears upon seeing him alighting from EFCC’s vehicle that conveyed him to the court, wept openly, urging him to be courageous.
The trial judge, Justice Benedict Agbata, had waited for the EFCC to bring Nnamani and Nwatu before him to take the charges but rose at about 9.50am when he was told by the court clerk that they were yet to arrive in court.
Operatives of the commission later came in with the former governor and Nwatu at about 10am. Having been informed of their presence by Nnamani’s lead counsel, Rickey Tarfa, SAN, and other counsel, the judge resumed sitting, having adjourned hearing on the matter till Tuesday, May 31.
The prosecution counsel proceeded to make an oral application for the vacation of the earlier order adjourning the case till next week and Tarfa supported the application, prompting Justice Agbata to vacate his earlier order and proceeded to hear the matter.
Nnamani, Nwatu and the companies, however, pleaded not guilty to the 15 charges brought against them but the EFCC counsel told the court that the prosecution witnesses were ready and sought accelerated hearing of the matter.
Justice Agbata adjourned the matter till Wednesday, June 1 for hearing of the bail application.