Court Dismisses Ex-Gov Obiano’s Objection Against EFCC

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Justice Inyang Ekwo of a Federal High Court in Abuja, has dismissed the preliminary objection filed by former Governor of Anambra State, Willie Obiano against the N4 billion security votes-related fraud charges brought against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

The court, Thursday, said the ex-governor cannot stop the EFCC from implementing the Act that founded it as an anti-graft agency, adding that security votes emanates from Nigeria's federation account.


EFCC's lawyer, Sylvanus Tahir, SAN, had told the court about a month ago, to refuse the motion of the ex-governor.

The commission said the Economic Governance Section of the EFCC is investigating the affairs of Anambra State under the stewardship of the defendant as governor between 2014 and 2022.

He added that the investigation was not restricted to Security Votes Accounts, contrary to the deposition in the governor's legal team.

The prosecution stated, “That in the investigation into the financial affairs of Anambra State Government, the aspect bothering on laundering of funds from Security Vote Account has substantially been done leading to the filing of the instant charge, while other aspect of the investigation dealing with an allegation of stealing, corruption, abuse of office, conspiracy, etc are still underway and nearing completion.”

Obiano' through his lawyer, Onyechi Ikpeazu SAN, filed a motion on notice seeking an order of the court squashing the instant charge for amounting to flagrant abuse of judicial process and a mockery of the criminal justice.

He argued in his processes that no evidence showed his client passing down directive for the disbursement of security votes and other funds belonging to Anambra State government.

The lawyer disclosed that there is already an appeal filed by the Anambra State government challenging the powers of the EFCC to investigate the security vote of Anambra state government.

He stated, “The defendant/applicant cannot be made answerable for any purported unlawful actions of officials of Anambra State government as there is no vicarious liability in our criminal jurisprudence.

“The thinking and conclusion of the prosecution on the counts arose from speculation and suspicions. The subject matter of the charge borders on accountability for security vote funds.

“The honorable court lacks the requisite jurisdiction to entertain issues on accountability for security vote funds.”

In his ruling on Thursday, Justice Ekwo held that on the issue of proof of evidence, the Federal High Court is a court of summary jurisdiction in criminal proceedings.

He explained that summary jurisdiction excuses the use of proof of evidence prior to the commencement of trial.

“The submission of proof of evidence by the defendant is mistaken and not applicable in this court,” Ekwo held while overruling the former governor on the grounds of proof of evidence.

On the defendant's argument that his client cannot be tried over security votes because an appeal had been filed, the judge also held that the appeal court judgement referenced by the defendant has been determined in EFCC's favour by the Supreme Court.

“As long as the EFCC Act has not been declared unconstitutional, this court cannot stop the implementation of the act,” Ekwo held.

He said the powers of the EFCC ought to be a question of law and has bearing in the 1999 constitution.

He observed that state security votes comes from the federation account making the development a constitutional issue.

“This court has no powers to preempt the case of the prosecution,” Ekwo said.

Subsequently, the judge dismissed the ex-governor's application, “I find at this point that none of the provisions of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) upon which the applicant relied on in his application, has any bearing on this case. I make an order dismissing this application.”

Ikpeazu thanked the court and then applied that the court should vary the bail granted to the defendant so that he can travel.

The application was not opposed by the EFCC while the judge granted the application and adjourned 24, 25, 26, 27 June for trial.

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