By Innocent Anaba
A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos, yesterday, ordered the remand of former chairman of Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Professor Maurice Iwu, in the custody of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, till today when his bail application would be heard and decided.
Trial judge, Justice Chuka Obiozor, ordered the remand of Iwu after his plea was taken on four-count money laundering charge made against Prof Maurice Iwu.
EFCC had arraigned Iwu before the court on charges bordering on aiding and concealment of N1.203 billion, which was said to be proceed of unlawful act.
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He was alleged to have between December 2014 and March 27, 2015 used his company, Bioresources Institute of Nigeria, BION, Limited, whose account with number 1018603119 is domiciled in United Bank for Africa, UBA, Plc.
The EFCC also alleged that Iwu and a lawyer, Victor Chukwuani, retained the sum of N407 million, said to be proceed of unlawful act, in BION Limited’s account No. 1018603119 domiciled in UBA to commit the alleged fraud.
The offences, according to the prosecution, are contrary to sections 18(a) and 15(2) (a) of Money Laundering Prohibition Act, 2011 (as amended) and punishable under Section 15 ( 3) of the same act.”
Upon the reading of the counts of the charge to the former INEC boss, he pleaded not guilty to all the counts.
Following his not guilty plea, the prosecutor, Rotimi Oyedepo, asked the court for a trial date and also urged the court to remand the defendant in prison custody, till hearing of his bail application.
Responding, Iwu’s lawyer, Ahmed Raji, SAN, informed the court that he had two applications, one challenging the court jurisdiction and the other, the bail application.
Raji, however, withdrew the application challenging court’s jurisdiction on the ground of his client’s freedom and urged the court to hear the bail application.
Upon his withdrawal of application challenging court’s jurisdiction, Justice Obiozor, instantly struck out same.
Following the striking of the application challenging court’s jurisdiction, Raji informed the court that bail application had been served on the prosecution but yet to be responded to.
He urged the court to either let his client be with the prosecution till today or be released to him, as he undertook to personally produce him in court.
He informed the court that all the time, his client had been admitted to administrative bail, he has never defaulted.
However, the prosecutor, Oyedepo, told the court that the appropriate place to remand a defendant after plea has been taken is prison.
In his ruling, Justice Obiozor, ordered that the defendant be remanded in EFCC custody till today for hearing of his bail application.
One of the charges read: “That you, Professor Iwu, between December 2014 and March 27, 2015, in Nigeria within the jurisdiction of this court aided the concealment of the total sum of N1.203 billion in BION Limited’s account No. 1018603119 domiciled in the UBA Plc, which sum you reasonably ought to have known forms part of proceeds of unlawful act to wit: fraud and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Sections 18(a), 15(2) (a) of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act, 2011 as amended and punishable under Section 15 ( 3) of the same Act.”