COURTROOM NEWS 01/06/2022
Alleged N3 Billion Fraud: Court Grants Okorocha N500m bail
A Federal High Court in Abuja has granted bail at N500million to ex-Imo Governor Senator Rochas Okorocha.
Justice Inyang Ekwo, in a ruling on Tuesday, rejected the objection of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to Okorocha’s bail application.
Justice Ekwo said bail is at the discretion of the court, noting that the Constitution provides for the defendant to be given adequate time to defend himself.
The judge said bail is granted to the first defendant (Okorocha) at N500million, with one surety in like sum, who must reside and own property within the jurisdiction of the court.
Justice Ekwo directed the Registry of the court to verify the documents of property to be presented as bail bond.
He also ordered Okorocha to deposit his international passport with the court registry.
The judge said Okorocha should remain in the custody of the EFCC pending when he is able to meet the bail conditions.
The judge also granted bail to Okorocha’s co-defendant, Anyim Nyerere Chinenye on the conditions attached to the administrative bail earlier granted him by the EFCC.
While arguing his client’s bail application, Okorocha’s lawyer, Solomon Umoh, (SAN) urges the court to grant bail to the ex-governor on liberal terms.
Umoh argued that it was within his client’s constitutional right to be admitted to bail in line with the doctrine of presumption of innocence.
He added: “The applicant has been a man known in this society, therefore , the procesecution’s contention that he could not be served with the charge is not true as he could have been served through substituted means.
“We beg the court that the applicant be admitted to bail on liberal terms.”
Lawyer to Chinenye, Oba Maduabuchi (SAN) equally prayed the court to admit his client to bail in line with the administrative bail earlier granted him by the EFCC.
Maduabuchi added: “There is no day that he (Chinenye was requested to come to court that he did not come.”
In opposing bail for the defendants, prosecuting lawyer, Cosmos Ugwu cited instances when Okocha allegedly evaded service of court documents.
Ugwu said: “On two consecutive occasions, the 1st defendant (Okorocha) frustrated his arraignment by refusing to appear in court.
As it relates to Chinenye, Ugwu argued that the defendant would jeopardise the criminal administration system if granted bail.
Ugwu added: “He will tamper with evidence and compromise witnesses because he is directly linked to the alleged crimes.”
Okorocha, Chinenye and five companies were arraigned before the court on Monday on a 17-coubt money laundering charge filed by the EFCC.
The companies are: Naphtali International Limited, Perfect Finish Multi Projects Limited, Consolid Projects Consulting Limited, Pramif International Limited, and Legend World Concepts Limited.
The defendants are accused, in the charge marked: FHC/ABJ/CR/28/2022 of diverting Imo State’s funds estimated at about N2.9billion.
The EFCC claimed that the defendants committed the alleged offence between October 2014 and February 2016.
It further claimed that the defendants sequentially siphoned funds from the Imo State Government House Account and Imo State Joint Local Government Project Account, which they diverted into accounts maintained by private firms.