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EFCC arraigns Rivers State CoS for N4.670bn fraud

Posted by By ATI TERKULA and LAMBERT TYEM, Abuja on 2008/10/10 | Views: 1430 |

EFCC arraigns Rivers State CoS for N4.670bn fraud


The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Thursday arraigned the Rivers State Chief of Staff, Ezebunwo Nyeson Wike, before an Abuja High Court presided over by Justice Abimbola Banjoko in Gudu district of the Federal Capital Territory over allegations of fraud.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Thursday arraigned the Rivers State Chief of Staff, Ezebunwo Nyeson Wike, before an Abuja High Court presided over by Justice Abimbola Banjoko in Gudu district of the Federal Capital Territory over allegations of fraud.

Meanwhile, the High Court of Rivers State on Wednesday issued an order declaring that the arrest and continued detention of Wike, unlawful, unconstitutional and an infringement of his right and personal liberty.

The suit No. PHC/1712/2008, is before the High Court of Rivers State of Nigeria in the Port Harcourt Judicial Division Holden at Port Harcourt before Hon. Justice C. Uriri [Judge] High Court 6.
Wike was arraigned on a seven-count charge of criminal breach of trust and conversion of public funds totaling N4.670 billion belonging to the Rivers State government.
The offences, according to the EFCC as contained in its charge sheet were in contravention of sections 315,309 of the Penal Code, Cap 532 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 1990. He pleaded not guilty to all the charges.
Counsel to the accused, Lateef Fagbemi, had withdrawn his written application for bail only to apply for it orally.

He agued that oral application could be made and cited Abiola vs Federal republic of Nigeria which was reported in 1995 WNLR Part 370.
“According to that authority my Lord, application for bail can be made orally on informed statement and if a case of treason could be so entertained, surely this one can also be entertained.” However, in a swift reaction, counsel to EFCC, James Binang, opposed the withdrawal of the written application stating that if it was to be granted, it must be on record and a pronouncement by the judge made on it.
The presiding judge, Honourable Justice Banjoko granted the defence counsel’s request to withdraw the written application.

Fagbemi further prayed the court to heed to a Port Harcourt High Court order, served EFCC on Thursday seeking for stay of action, arrest, and prosecution of the accused.
The judge, however, advised defence counsel to concentrate on his bail application.
In his submission, the EFCC counsel observed for the record that the Port Harcourt High Court order served him has an annexure of another court.

He also averred that the Commission would still take further court action against the accused as his offence also contravened the Money Laundering laws.
Ruling on the oral application, Justice Banjoko said granting of bail was at the discretion of the court and should be done judiciously and judicially. She said sections 35 and 36 of the 1999 Constitution gurantees bail to an accused and also presumes him innocence.
Justice Banjoko thereafter granted bail to the accused in sum of N50million with two surties in like sum.
The sureties must provide evidence of bonifide residence of Abuja and must have title deeds of landed properties.

They must also provide three years tax clearance certificate, swear also an undertaking to ensure the appearance of the accused to trial.
They must submit three passport photographs of themselves and ttheir international passports to the court.

She also granted the request of the defence counsel that Wike be remanded in EFCC custody pending the time he meets the bail condition.
The case has been adjourned till October 24.
Meanwhile, Rivers State government has faulted the action of the EFCC over the recent arrest and detention of the Secretary to State Government [SSG], Mr. Magnus Abbe.


Resident Media Consultant to Rivers State Government, Mr. David Lyofor told reporters at the EFCC headquarters in Abuja on Thursday while serving the Commission with Court orders lamented that there was no initial invitation to the SSG by EFCC and, therefore, they acted in error.
Mr. Lyofor, however, denied the allegations that the SSG was arrested by EFCC for attempting to bribe the officials of the Commission while at their office, describing the allegation as a fabrication of lies and a handiwork of political enemies.

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Fay(Katy, Texas, US)says...

Actually translates to bravehearted.