By Soni Daniel, Northern Region Editor
Three years after they allegedly received N700 million out of the N23 billion cash made available to People’s Democratic Party leaders for the 2015 presidential election, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission is set to charge five key leaders of the party in Edo State to court for their roles in the laundering of the said fund.
The five suspects to be docked before the Federal High Court Benin City today (tomorrow) according to information made available by the EFCC, are: Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, former PDP governorship candidate in Edo State; Lucky Imasuen, former deputy governor of Edo State; Chief Dan Orbih, Edo State PDP chairman; Tony Azigbemi and Efe Erimuoghae Anthony before a Federal High Court sitting in Benin City, Edo State.
The anti-graft agency accuses the suspects of conspiring among themselves to collect and share the money from a commercial bank in the country just a few days to the last presidential election, thereby violating the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act.
Though the arraignment was earlier scheduled for May 16, the case was adjourned to May 24, 2018 for arraignment due to the absence of Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu and Chief Dan Orbih in court.
At the last court sitting, counsel to Orbih, Chief Ferdinard O. Orbih, SAN, told the court that his client was outside the shores of Nigeria attending to his health needs.
The same argument was canvassed by Ikhide Ehighelua, counsel to Pastor Ize-Iyamu who told the court that his client was outside the country attending to his health.
One of the count reads: “That you Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, Lucky Imasuen, Tony Azigbemi, Chief Dan Orbih, Efe Erimuoghae Anthony and Chief Anthony Anenih (now at large) sometime March 2015 in Benin within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court did directly take possession and control of the sum of 700 million without any contract award which sum you reasonably ought to have known form part of proceeds of an unlawful act, to wit; fraud and corruption; and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 15(2)(d) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011 (as amended by the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Amendment Act 2012 and punishable under Section 15(3)of the same Act”.
All the men are likely to plead not guilty to the charges preferred against them.
They were investigated by the South South Zonal office of the EFCC in Port Harcourt and had been granted bail.