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Ex INEC chairman, Maurice Iwu seeks transfer of N1.2bn fraud trial to Abuja

By Michael Ojo

Former Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof Maurice Iwu on Thursday applied before a Federal High Court, Lagos the transference of the N1.2bn fraud case preferred against by the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) Abuja division of Federal high court.

Counsel to Iwu Ahamed Raji SAN told Justice Nicolas Oweibo  that the transfer is necessary so as not to subject the defendant to great hardship.

He stated the Iwu resides in Abuja but always travelled down to Lagos whenever the case comes up.

“My Lord, this defendant is over 70 years of age, and he always travelled down to Lagos whenever, booked hotel. It will amount to great agony for him to continue with this trial in Lagos”.

Iwu also said that the transaction that led to this charge was done in Abuja, therefore the case is supposed to be heard in Abuja.

Counsel to EFCC Rotimi Oyedepo urged the court to refuse the application because all the witnesses listed in the proof of evidence resides in Lagos and Ibadan,  more so, it’s the Lagos Zonal office of EFCC that investigated the case.

Oyedepo contended that all the banks officials listed in the proof of evidence to testify and the documents to tender are in Lagos.

Oyedepo said that the offence for which the defendant was charged touched on the Economic well being of Nigeria, thereby such offence can be tried anywhere in Nigeria.

The prosecution also sighted the provision of section 98 of administration of Criminal Justice Act, which states that only the chief judge has power to transfer any matter.

Justice Nicholas Oweibo after listening to both parties adjourned the case to March 6, 2020 for ruling.

Iwu is facing a three-count charge of fraud and money laundering brought against him by the anti graft commission.

He was first arraigned on August 8, 2019 before Justice Chuka Obiozor also of the Federal High Court, Lagos, but was granted a N1bn bail after pleading not guilty to the charges.

Following the transfer of the case to Oweibo, Iwu was re-arraigned by the anti-graft commission on October 24. 2019.

EFCC said that Iwu committed the alleged offences from December 2014 to March 27, 2015.

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