Alleged N700m money-laundering suit: Court fixes March 26 to rule on EFCC’s competence

The Federal High Court, sitting in Benin, will on March 26,2020, give a ruling on the competence of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC)  to bring money laundering charges against Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, the State Chairman of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Orbih and 3 others.
A suit with No. FHC/B51c/2018 is before the court, with other defendants listed to include a former Deputy Governor of Edo State, Mr Lucky Imasuen, a former member of the House of Representatives, Dr.Tony Azegbemi and Efe Anthony.
The presiding Judge, Justice  Mohammed Umar, fixed the date for ruling on the competence of the charges after listening to the various submissions of parties in the case.
The EFCC is alleging that the defendants received N700 million from former Minister of Petroleum, Mrs Deziani Alison-Madueke, prior to the 2015 general elections.
The resumed hearing on the suit on Monday was for all the parties to adopt their written addresses on the defendants’ claim that the charges against them were incompetent because the late Chief Tony Anenih, a principal actor in the alleged illegal transaction, was included as a defendant.
Counsels for the defendants, namely, Chief Ferdinand Orbih (SAN), Kingsley Obamogie, Professor George Izevbuwa, Paschal Ugbome and Ikhide Ehighelua, told the court that the case against their clients should be dropped.
They based their submission on the fact  that Chief Anenih who was conspicuously mentioned in all the charges had died.
Obamogie, in another submission, informed the court that the document presented by the EFCC was not properly signed, arguing that signature on the document was different from the seal, contrary to extant Court practices.
He insisted on a signing and stamping with a seal.
Professor Izevbuwa also pointed out that the EFCC lawyer, Aso Larry Peters, went out of his way to formulate four issues for determination contrary to the court’s singular issue for determination.
The EFCC lawyer himself while adopting his written address said there were only five persons for the alleged offence, adding that the name of Chief Anenih only appeared to enable the commission present the facts the way it is.
He said the defendants were alive to face trial and that their Counsel’s argument was a ploy to delay their taking of plea for
the 8 counts of conspiracy with one another to commit money laundering to the tune of N700 million.
He said that the offence was contrary to Section 18(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011 as amended and punishable under section 15 (3) of the same Act
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