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Alleged N4bn Fraud: EFCC Decries Obiano’s Delay Tactics

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has accused defense team of former governor of Anambra State, Willie Obiano, of allegedly evading the prosecution’s service of a counter-affidavit.

The accusation was made known by the lead prosecution counsel in the trial, Sylvanus Tahir, SAN, on Thursday, March 7, 2024.

In a statement, the EFCC said Obiano is facing trial on a nine-count charge of embezzlement and money laundering to the tune of N4 billion before Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja.

At Thursday’s session, Tahir told the court that the prosecution fruitlessly knocked at the gate of the chambers of the lead defence counsel, Onyechi Ikpeazu, SAN, that was placed under lock and key, with no access in a bid to serve him a motion on notice in good time as ordered by the court at its Monday, March 4, 2024, sitting.

“My Lord, you will recall that on Monday, March 4, 2024, when this matter was mentioned for hearing, the complainant was served with a motion on notice, which was intended to challenge this suit before this honourable court, but the honourable court directed that we should file our response latest yesterday Wednesday, March 6. And we complied. My people went to the office of the lead senior counsel in this matter to serve the process, but their gate was closed, and they did not attend to us.

Narrating the situation further, Tahir said, “I personally called him, lead counsel, and he responded that he was at the tribunal and I told him that my people were in his office to serve him. I also called another counsel in that chamber to inform him that there were people in his office to serve him and he said he was going to get back to me but he didn’t get back, eventually”

“Since there was nobody to open the gate for us to serve them, it was this morning that we served them and we are ready for the hearing,” he said.

Standing for the defence, Patrick Ikweto, SAN, did not counter the accusation. He admitted that the prosecution only served his team its counter-affidavit Thursday morning and prayed the court for an adjournment to enable his team to respond adequately.

Ikpeazu had on March 4, filed a motion challenging the jurisdiction of Justice Ekwo’s court to entertain Obiano’s trial.

The twist made the prosecution ask for time to respond appropriately with a counter-motion. The judge slated the hearing of the prosecution’s motion for Thursday which could not be held as the defence ensured that it was not served in good time.

Justice Ekwo frowned at the slow progress of the case and fixed March 13, 2024 for the final hearing of Obiano’s motion on jurisdiction.

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