N41m fraud: EFCC fails to arraign Okonkwo

In what looked like a drama, Wednesday at the Enugu State High Court, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission  (EFCC), again failed to arraign the former Anambra governorship candidate of the Action Democratic Party (ADP), Mr Ifeanyichukwu Okonkwo over an alleged fraud.   

EFCC accused Okonkwo of stealing by conversion N41 million from one Onyishi Maduka Samuel, an offence said to be contrary to section 342 CAP 30, criminal code law of Enugu state and punishable under section 353  of the same law.

Drama ensued when the case with charge No E/2980/2019 was mentioned and parties announced appearances while the accused person, Okonkwo announced his appearance and told the court that he would defend himself in the matter.

However, prosecution Counsel, I. I  Mbachue told the court that the accused had no locus standi to announce appearance, saying that he should enter the dock and take his plea. But, Okonkwo told the court, presided by Justice K. I. Okpe, that he would not take a plea because the jurisdiction of the court is being challenged, adding that the prosecution had not served him an arraignment notice.

Okonkwo further told the court that it is proper in law and  Supreme Court decision that when the issue of jurisdiction is challenged that the court must resolve the issue of jurisdiction first. He told the court that he had filed action since October 23, 2019 challenging the capacity of EFCC to interfere in a contractual agreement.

The EFCC counsel who appeared with two other counsels told the court that he had two applications to make which according to him were anchored on section 360 of the Enugu state  of Criminal Justice System and Section 360 subsection 60.

“My Lord, the accused should enter the dock as the rules provides so that the charge is read to the suspect because  it is a criminal matter.”

Okonkwo vehemently opposed the EFCC applications, arguing, “This is matter is challenged on the jurisdiction of the court. I filed Suit No FHC/EN/CS/137/2019 at the federal high court challenging the powers of the EFCC.

“They cannot arraign me if the court says that I should be released from the custody. And since January 23, I have been in custody of EFCC despite the order of your learned colleague.

“I was not served the arraignment. I am a citizen of Nigeria. In the interest of justice I want to be given time to prepare for my defense.”

Leave a Reply