Criminal Law

Okorocha’s absence stalls trial over alleged N2.9bn fraud

The absence of former Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State at the Federal High Court, Abuja, on Tuesday stalled his trial for an alleged N2.9 billion corruption charge.
Okorocha, now a Senator representing Imo West, was also not represented by any lawyer.
However, six other defendants billed to be arraigned along with him on 17-count corruption charges were in court, along with their lawyers.
When the matter was mentioned on Tuesday, counsel to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Mr Cosmos Ugwu told Justice Inyang Eden Ekwo that the former Imo State Governor had been evading service of the criminal charges on him as required by law.
He said that the retinue of security operatives surrounding the Senator has made it impossible for Okorocha to be served in person by court officials.
“My, Lord, the business of today is ordinarily for arraignment but it’s regrettable that all efforts on our part to serve the first defendant, Rochas Okorocha have proved abortive.
“The security around him has not been helpful and I wish to apply for an adjournment to enable us to serve him and then, arraign him,” he said.
Other defendants in the charge did not object to the request for adjournment.
Justice Ekwo subsequently fixed March 28 to enable the EFCC to serve him with the charge and to take his plea.
According to the EFCC,  the former Imo governor allegedly conspired with others, including a member of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and five companies, to steal N2.9 billion public funds.
Aside from Okorocha, other defendants are Anyim Nyerere Chinenye, Naphtali International Limited, Perfect Finish Multi Projects Limited, Consolid Projects Consulting Limited, Pramif International Limited, and Legend World Concepts Limited.
In April 2021, the EFCC arrested the former governor and he was grilled for two days over issues bothering on alleged corruption before he was admitted to administrative bail.

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