- A Federal High Court, Abuja has admitted Sen. Rochas Okorocha to bail in the sum of N500 million with one surety in like sum
- The judge, while admitting the senator to a bail with a cautionary statement, ordered that his international passport be deposited to the registry of the court
- Okorocha was alleged to have laundered funds to the tune of N2.9 billion while serving as governor of Imo
The Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, yesterday, granted bail to the detained former governor of Imo State, Rochas Okorocha, to the tune of N500million with one surety in like sum.
Trial Justice Inyang Ekwo okayed Okorocha’s release on bail after he dismissed a counter-affidavit the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, filed against him.
EFCC had through its lawyer, Mr. O. C. Ugwu, urged the court to allow the former governor to remain in custody, alleging that he posed a flight risk.
The prosecution maintained that Okorocha not only breached the administrative bail it earlier granted to him but equally made himself inaccessible, a situation that led to his forceful arrest on May 24.
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It told the court that the erstwhile governor, who is facing a 17-count money laundering charge, can interfere with some of its proposed witnesses.
“My lord, on two consecutive occasions, the 1st defendant (Okorocha) frustrated his arraignment by refusing to appear in court,” EFCC’s lawyer added.
However, counsel to the defendant, Mr. Solomon Umoh, SAN, assured the court that his client would be available to face his trial.
The defence lawyer stressed that his client, being a responsible citizen and a presidential aspirant, would not conduct himself in any manner that would undermine the sanctity of the court.
He, therefore, begged the court to release him on bail on self-recognizance or in the most liberal terms, noting that the charge against him contained bailable offences.
More so, Umoh, SAN, argued that it was within his client’s constitutional right to be presumed innocent until the allegations against him are established by the EFCC.
“My lord, the applicant is a man that is well known in this society. Therefore, the prosecution’s contention that he could not be reached for the charge to be served on him is not true as he could have been served through substituted means,” Umoh added.
In his short ruling, trial Justice Ekwo said he was minded to exercise his discretion in favour of the defendant.
He ordered the defendant to produce one surety that must be a responsible citizen and owner of landed property in Abuja worth the total bail sum.
The trial judge held that the surety must deposit the original title documents of the property with the Registrar of the court for verification, even as he ordered Okorocha to surrender all his travel documents and not leave the country without permission.
He directed the Court’s Registrar to write to the Nigerian Immigration Service, NIS, notifying it about the seizure of the defendant’s passport and the need for him to always secure permission before traveling out of the country.
The court held that the defendant must remain in the custody of the EFCC, pending the perfection of all his bail conditions.
Likewise, the court also gave bail to the 2nd defendant in the matter, Mr. Anyim Nyerere Chinenye, who is a chieftain of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, on terms of the administrative bail the EFCC earlier handed to him.
Justice Ekwo subsequently adjourned the matter till November 7, 8, 9, 10, and 11 for trial.
My father's arrest is political – Okorochas daughter
Legit.ng earlier reported the senator's daughter, Uloma Nwosu alleged that the arrest of her father was politically facilitated.
She further alleged that her father had not been quizzed by the anti-graft agency since his forceful arrest from his Abuja residence.
Meanwhile, the EFCC denied the allegation stating that Senator Rochas was arrested on the premise of jumping administrative bail earlier granted to him in his previous case with the commission.
Okorocha facing 17-count charge for money laundering
According to reports, Okorocha is facing a 17 count charge for money laundering.
Also implicated in the fraud charge is Anyim Nyerere Chinenye an APC stalwart alongside five companies; Naphtali International Limited, Perfect Finish Multi Projects Limited, Consolid Projects Consulting Limited, Pramif International Limited, and Legend World Concepts Limited.
As alleged by the EFCC, Rochas and his cohorts collaborated to divert public funds into a private account for personal use.