Following the conclusion of the fraud case against Senator Orji Uzor-Kalu, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, has revived up the cases against 11 other former Governors. Kalu, who was the Abia State Governor between 1999 and 2007, was last week, found guilty of a N7.6 billion fraud, and jailed for 12 years. It was learnt that the EFCC has held a meeting of its Prosecutors and Detectives, to review ongoing cases against the former Governors.
The meeting bordered on how to accelerate the trial of the ex-Governors, especially those who have forfeited choice assets to the Commission. The meeting focused on removing legal bottlenecks, and a termination of frivolous applications brought up to frustrate ongoing trials. According to reports, some of those on the list are: Senator Chimaroke Nanamani (Enugu); Peter Odili (Rivers); Saminu Turaki (Jigawa); Ayo Fayose (Ekiti); Gbenga Daniel (Ogun); Ikedi Ohakim (Imo); Sule Lamido (Jigawa); Martins Elechi (Ebonyi); Gabriel Suswam (Benue); Adebayo Alao-Akala (Oyo); and Murtala Nyako.
The EFCC in November, through its Counsel. Rotimi Jacobs, said that it is ready to close its case against ex-Governor Murtala Nyako. However, Nyako pleaded with Justice Okon Abang, to order the EFCC to produce its three witnesses for cross-examination.
An Official who spoke in confidence, said: “For hours, our legal team and crack Detectives met on Friday and Saturday, for hours, on long-standing cases of some ex-Governors in various courts, with some as old as 12 years. We have such cases like those of Chimaroke Nnamani and Saminu Turaki. “We decided to hold a review session on how to fast-track the conclusion of some of these cases. We have instances where some ex-Governors have forfeited choice assets, but awaiting the conclusion of their cases by a court. “Some ex-Governors have either deliberately delayed trial, by hiding under the guise of ill-health or some frivolous applications that will run from the High Court to the Supreme Court, and slowing down of trial through adjournments. “A few others have accused Judges of unethical practices, leading to the reassignment of their cases. We know those we are dealing with and their capacity. “Our main goal is to see how we can collaborate with the Judiciary, within the framework of the Administration of Criminal Justice, ACJA, to hasten these trials.
We want to remove or limit all legal obstacles.” The source added: “We are also tidying up some loose ends to stop recourse to the re-arraignment of some of these suspects. “Were it not for the illness of ex-Governor Chimaroke Nnamani, the EFCC has been anticipating the conclusion of his trial. More than all the suspects, the court has seized many assets linked with companies in which he allegedly had interest.” Nnamani was arraigned for allegedly diverting about N4.5 billion Excess Crude cash.
He is facing trial with Sunday Anyaogu, and six firms, Rainbownet, Hillgate Nigeria, Cosmos FM, Capital City Automobile Nig Ltd, Renaissance University Teaching Hospital, and Mea Mater Elizabeth High School. Some of his forfeited assets are undeveloped properties and transmission equipment of Rainbownet Limited; property of Hill Gate Investment Limited/Cuena Phones Limited; assets of Cosmo 105.5FM, and 22 duplexes at Ebeano Estate (now Fidelity Estate). Others are Rainbownet’s shares in Zenith Bank and Guaranty Trust Bank, with a combined account balance of N4.6 million; as well as money in its bank accounts worth about N34.8 million, and balance in 10 accounts with Access Bank.
Rainbownet’s undeveloped property forfeited include 7 plots at Independence Layout; 567.96 Square metres (Sqm) at Abakpa; 574.96 Sqm at Emene, and 2,951.98 Sqm, at Achara Layout.
Others forfeited include thousands of square metres of properties at Abia State, namely Ogbor Hill (914.633), Abayi (one and half plots), Port Harcourt Road (1,856.449), Ariaria (640.32), Umuagari (573.263), and Assannetu (954.396), as well as Abakiliki, Ebonyi State (one plot).
Also, in Onitsha, Anambra State, are Barracks (one plot), Nkpor (1088.644), Awada (465.14), Fegge (one plot), as well as 2,200.06 square miles of land at Okpumo, Awka.
Report indicates that the EFCC is set to wrap up some investigations in the cases of ex-Governors Peter Odili (N100 billion), and Martins Elechi. The ex-Ebonyi State Governor has been under probe over an alleged $12 million contract awarded to a United States-based firm, Califco Group, in 2012. The State Government allegedly paid $10.8 million to the firm in 2012, as mobilisation fee, but the project was abandoned.
An Agency Official said: “We are already working out legal plans to vacate the perpetual injunction obtained by ex-Governor Odili, to restrain the Commission from arresting and prosecuting him for fraud. He needs to account for about N100 billion.”
Since March 23, 2007, Odili has been benefitting from a restraining order by Justice Ibrahim Buba, including a declaration that the EFCC’s investigations were invalid, unlawful, unconstitutional, null and void.
In May, Justice Olarenwaju Mabekoje of the Ogun State High Court, sitting in Abeokuta, dismissed the no-case submission of former Governor, Gbenga Daniel. The Defendant was re-arraigned on Monday, April 16, 2012, by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on a 32-count charge bordering on misappropriation of funds to the tune of over N200 million, criminal breach of trust and abuse of office.
Daniel has 18 counts on which he is facing trial, having been cleared of 14 charges.
Ex-Governor Saminu Turaki, was re-arrested in 2017, for failing to present himself for trial since 2011, on a 36-count charge of corruption before the Federal High Court, Dutse. He has since been on trial over an alleged N36 billion fraud.
The EFCC on July 8, 2015, arraigned Ohakim, who was the Imo State Governor between 2007 and 2011, on three counts of money laundering.
The prosecution accused Ohakim of purchasing a property at 60, Kwame Nkrumah Street, Plot No. 1098, Cadastral ZoneA04, Asokoro District, Abuja, with cash payment of $2.29 million, which was said to be dollar equivalent of N270 million, in November 2008.
The offence is said to be contrary to section 1 of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2004, and punishable under Section 15 (1) (d) of the same law.
On June 23, 2016, a Federal High Court, Abuja, said that Ohakim has a case to answer. He has since been on trial.
Suswam was re-arraigned together with his former Commissioner for Finance, Omadachi Oklobi, in September, on N3.1 billion money laundering charges. Suswam, who is the Senator representing Benue North-East, and his co-Defendant, pleaded not guilty.
They were initially put on trial in November 2015, before Justice Ahmed Mohammed, who they accused of unethical practices, based on a report published by Sahara Reporters. The case was re-assigned to another Judge. He pleaded not guilty to the charge preferred against him, thereby setting the stage for his trial.
In May 2018, the EFCC re-arraigned a former Governor of Oyo State, Adebayo Alao-Akala, and two others, in an Oyo State High Court sitting in Ibadan, over an alleged N11.5 billion fraud. The other Defendants are a former Oyo State Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Matters, Senator Hosea Agboola; and an Ibadan-based Businessman, Femi Babalola. The case is still ongoing.
A former Governor of Jigawa State, Sule Lamido, was in October 2018, re-arraigned a on a 43-count amended charge bordering on abuse of Office and money laundering, before Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu, of the Federal High Court, Maitama, Abuja. He was arraigned together with two of his sons, Aminu Lamido and Mustapha Lamido; Aminu Wada Abubakar, Bamaina Holdings Ltd, and Speeds International Ltd, for allegedly defrauding the State to the tune of N1.35 billion.
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