‘N40bn fraud’: Obiano loses bid to stop trial as court sets dates

Application by a former Anambra State Governor, Willie Obiano, which sought to quash the N40 billion money laundering charges brought against him by the federal government was Thursday dismissed by Justice Inyang Edem Ekwo of the Federal High Court in Abuja.

In a ruling, the Judge faulted and rejected all grounds upon which the application was predicated by Obiano.

Earlier, the former governor had amongst others, prayed the Judge to dismiss the nine-count charges instituted against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on behalf of the federal government.

He claimed that there was no connection between the proof of evidence supplied to court by EFCC and the accusations against him.

He averred further that there was no testimony from any witness indicating that he issued directives for the disbursement of security votes and other funds belonging to the Anambra State government.

Obiano also claimed that he cannot be held accountable for any alleged unlawful actions by officials of the Anambra State government as there is no concept of vicarious liability in the criminal justice system.

His motion on notice was brought pursuant to section 6 (6) (a) and (b) and section 36(6) (6) b of the 1999 constitution as amended and section 1(1) & (2), 266, 271(b), 383(4) &492 (3) of the Administration of the Criminal Justice Act 2015.

Among others, Obiano sought “An order of the court quashing the instant charge for it amounts to flagrant abuse of judicial process and a mockery of the criminal Justice.”

But in the ruling, Justice Ekwo held that all the reliefs sought by Obiano are not grantable because they are premature and lacking in merit.

The Judge said there is no way the court would know whether the former governor is linked with the alleged offences or not unless the trial is conducted in line with the provisions of the law.

Meanwhile, the Judge has fixed June 24, 25, 26 and 27, 2024 for full blown trial of the charges.

In the same vein, Justice Ekwo permitted Obiano 60 days to travel abroad for medical treatment.

The Judge ordered that Obiano be made to sign undertaking to return to the country after the treatment and to deposit his travelling passport within three days of his return to Nigeria.