"Obiano Challenges Jurisdiction: Insists on Anambra Trial for Alleged Fraud Charges"

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"Obiano Challenges Jurisdiction: Insists on Anambra Trial for Alleged Fraud Charges"

 Former Anambra State Governor, Willie Obiano has told a Federal High Court in Abuja that he cannot be prosecuted in Abuja for fraud crimes he allegedly committed in Anambra State.

He asked the court to decline jurisdiction to try the fraud charges and to direct the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, to shift the prosecution of the criminal matter to the appropriate place in Anambra.

Obiano, through his lawyer, Dr Onyechi Ikpeazu SAN insisted that the appropriate place to determine the money laundering charges instituted against him must be considered and resolved before any trial could commence.

The former governor who served two terms in Anambra State was arraigned before the court over alleged embezzlement of state funds amounting to N40 billion.

At the Monday’s proceedings, EFCC lawyer, Sylvanus Tahir told the court that he had three witnesses to present against the governor for the trial.

But Onyechi Ikpeazu told the judge that he filed a motion challenging the jurisdiction of the court to conduct the trial in Abuja by the EFCC.

He asked the court to exercise its discretion to determine his motion first before the commencement of any trial.

The EFCC lawyer, Tahir confirmed to the court that the defendant served him with the said motion on notice.

“This is a blatant waste of time, “Tahir contended but Justice Inyang Edem Ekwo interjected and asked him to allow the court to decide the motion on its merit.

Subsequently, lawyers agreed to return to court on Thursday and exchange processes relating to the motion on notice.

Justice Ekwo thereafter adjourned the matter to March 7 for a motion of notice to be determined.

Part of the charge reads, “that Chief Willie Maduabuchi Obiano, whilst being the executive governor of Anambra State between March 2014 — March 2022, sometime between 9th August, 2017 to 4th March, 2020 in Abuja, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, indirectly transferred through Mr Willie Nwokoye, your then principal private secretary, the sum of N261,268,585.00 only from the Anambra State Government Security Vote Account into the account belonging to Easy Diamond Integrated Link (an entity that had no business relationship with the Anambra State Government), which funds were dissipated for purposes unrelated / unconnected with the security affairs of Anambra State, which you reasonably ought to have known that such funds formed part of the proceeds of your unlawful act, to wit: (Stealing and Corruption) and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 15 (2) (b) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 (as amended) in 2012 and punishable under Section 15 (3) of the same Act.”

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