Criminal Law

Court threatens to strike out FG’s N2.9bn corruption charges against Okorocha

Justice Inyang Eden Ekwo of the Federal High Court, Abuja, on Monday threatened to strike out a N2.9 billion money laundering criminal charges brought against Senator Rochas Okorocha by the Federal Government.
The judge threatened to throw out the charges following the inability of the Federal Government to serve charges on Okorocha as required by law.
For the second time, the Federal Government through its counsel, Mr Cosmos Ugwu, told Justice Ekwo that he has not been able to see Okorocha and serve him with the charges.
The counsel informed the court that he would make efforts and would continue to make efforts until he succeeds in serving the former Imo State governor with the court papers.
He subsequently applied for another adjournment to enable him do everything within his power to serve the court papers in line with provisions of the law.
However, his excuse for not serving charges on Okorocha did not go down well with the Judge who reminded him that same story was played out on February 22 when the defendant ought to have taken his plea.
Justice Ekwo said categorically that he was not going to continue to take flimsy excuses from the lawyer and would not help him to do his job.
In a short ruling, the judge granted the request for the second adjournment and warned the government’s lawyer to demonstrate seriousness or else, the case would be struck out.
“Let me place on record, that this is the second time this flimsy excuse is being made to justify the absence of the 1st defendant (Okorocha) in court to take his plea.
“As the prosecutor, you must demonstrate seriousness in the discharge of your duties. This is the last adjournment I shall grant in this matter.
“If on the adjourned date, you come up with the same flimsy excuses, I shall have no option than to strike out the charges,” the Judge warned.
Justice Ekwo subsequently fixed May 30 for the prosecution to put his house in order.
The Federal Government’s charges against Okorocha dated January 24, 2022, was signed by one A.O Ikota on behalf of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
Okorocha, who is currently a Senator representing Imo West in the National Assembly, is to face trial alongside six others in the N2.9 billion money laundering criminal charges.
The senator is being put on trial by the Federal Government on 17-count charges involving criminal diversion of public funds and properties.

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