Court Orders Ex-Governor Obiano to Face Trial Over N4bn Fraud Allegations

Daud Olatunji

 The Federal High Court in Abuja has dismissed an application filed by the immediate past governor of Anambra State, Willie Obiano, challenging the jurisdiction of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to prosecute him for alleged N4 billion fraud.

In a ruling delivered by Justice Inyang Ekwo on Thursday, the court deemed Obiano’s application lacking in merit and subsequently dismissed it.

Justice Ekwo rebuffed all grounds presented by Obiano, emphasizing that the trial must proceed in accordance with the law to determine whether the former governor is linked to the alleged offenses.

Regarding the contentious issue of state security votes, Justice Ekwo emphasized that they are sourced from the federation account, thus constituting a constitutional matter. He asserted that the EFCC has a valid case to pursue.

The judge clarified that the Federal High Court, as a court of summary jurisdiction in criminal proceedings, does not require proof of evidence prior to the commencement of trial.

In response to a request from Obiano’s counsel, Onyechi Ikpeazu (SAN), for the release of the former governor’s international passport to seek medical treatment abroad, the judge expressed willingness to grant the application, with the condition that Obiano returns the passport to the court upon his return.

While the EFCC did not oppose the application, its counsel, Sylvanus Tahir (SAN), expressed concern about the 60-day duration requested for medical treatment, citing the potential impact on the trial timeline.

The court adjourned the matter until June 24-27 for the commencement of trial.

Obiano, who was arraigned on January 24, faces a nine-count charge related to alleged N4 billion fraud. Despite his application challenging the EFCC’s authority to prosecute him, the court has affirmed that the trial will proceed as scheduled.

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