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May 27, 2022

Alleged N2.9bn Fraud: Court rejects ex-Imo gov, Okorocha’s bail application


Senator Rochas Okorocha

By Ikechukwu Nnochiri

ABUJA–The Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, on Friday, refused to order the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, to release the detained former governor of Imo state, Rochas Okorocha on bail.

The court, in a ruling that was delivered by Justice Inyang Ekwo, rejected an ex-parte application the erstwhile governor brought to secure bail from EFCC custody.

It will be recalled that operatives of the anti-graft agency had on Tuesday, arrested Okorocha at his Abuja residence in an operation that lasted over seven hours.

The arrest followed an alleged refusal by the former governor to make himself available for trial in a 17-count money laundering charge that is pending against him before the court.

EFCC accused him of deliberately evading service of the charge on him.

Meanwhile, though Justice Ekwo earlier adjourned the case till Monday for arraignment, Okorocha, through his team of lawyers led by Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN, approached the court to enforce his fundamental human rights.

He accused the anti-graft agency of violating his rights, insisting that his arrest and continued detention was illegal and unconstitutional.

More so, Okorocha, alleged that he was being unnecessarily witch-hunted by the EFCC, even as he drew attention of the court to the fact that he is a presidential aspirant on the platform of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC.

He said his political ambition would be jeopardized, unless the court intervened in the matter by ordering his immediate release on bail.

In his ruling on Friday, Justice Ekwo ordered the Applicant to go and put the EFCC on notice to enable it to respond to the bail application.

Okorocha, who piloted affairs of Imo state from 2011 to 2019, was charged before the court following his alleged complicity in a N2.9billion fraud.

He was charged alongside a chieftain of the All Progressive, APC, Anyim Nyerere Chinenye, and five companies- Naphtali International Limited, Perfect Finish Multi Projects Limited, Consolid Projects Consulting Limited, Pramif International Limited, and Legend World Concepts Limited.

EFCC alleged that the defendants conspired and diverted public funds into private accounts for their personal use.

According to the anti-graft agency, the defendants committed the alleged offence between October 2014 and February 2016.

It alleged that the defendants sequentially siphoned funds from the Imo State Government House account and Imo State Joint Local Government Project account, and diverted same into accounts of private firms.

Okorocha, who is currently the Senator representing Imo West, had earlier declared his intention to contest for presidency in the 2023 general elections.