Thursday, 30 June 2016

Money laundering: You’ve a case to answer, court tell Ohakim

……orders him to open defence Oct 10

The former governor of Imo State, Chief Ikedi Ohakim, on Thursday, failed to persuade the Federal High Court in Abuja to quash the three-count criminal charge the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, preferred against him.

Ikedi Ohakim
Ikedi Ohakim

The court, in a ruling by trial Justice Ademola Adeniyi, held that the former governor who piloted the affairs of Imo state between May 2007 and May 2011, has a case to answer pertaining to the charges against him.
The charges border on money laundering, abuse of office and misappropriation of public funds.
Justice Adeniyi held that the anti-graft agency successfully established a prima-facie criminal case against the defendant that would warrant him to enter his defence before the court.
Consequently, Ohakim’s no-case-submission was dismissed by the court which ordered the former governor to open his defence on October 10.
The charge against Ohakim arose from his alleged purchase of the property at 60, Kwame Nkrumah Street, Plot No 1098, Cadastral ZoneA04, Asokoro District, Abuja with cash payment of $2.29 which was said to be dollar equivalent of N270m in November 2008.
The property, according to the agency, was acquired with funds the defendant allegedly laundered from Imo state treasury.
He was also accused of failing to declare the property as part of his assets when asked by the EFCC to do so.
The prosecution said the erstwhile governor violated section 15(1)(d) and section 14(1)(b) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2004.
Ohakim was said to have paid for the property in cash.
Nevertheless, Ohakim, who earlier pleaded not guilty to the charge, through his lawyer, Chief Awa Kalu, SAN, contended that the anti-graft agency failed to establish his involvement in any act of illegality.
The former governor entered a no-case-submission after the prosecution counsel, Mr. Festus Keyamo, closed his case against him.
Ohakim prayed the trial court to discharge and acquit him on the basis that EFCC failed to nail him to any crime.
However, the agency, in its counter-affidavit, urged the court to dismiss the no-case-submission and order Ohakim to open his defence.
The agency maintained that the defendant has explanations to give pertaining to the charge against him.
More so, EFCC told the court that the defendant initially made confessional statement where he admitted purchasing the Abuja mansion.
It told the court that Ohakim made efforts to conceal the original ownership of the property.

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