Court withholds ex-Gov Obiano’s passport

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The Federal High Court in Abuja has ordered that the passports and travel documents belonging to the former governor of Anambra State, Willie Obiano, be kept in its custody and that of the Nigeria Immigration Service.

It also ordered that the former governor not travel outside the jurisdiction without the permission of the court.

A statement issued by the spokesperson of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Dele Oyewale, said on Wednesday that Obiano was arraigned before Justice Inyang Ekwo on nine counts bordering on money laundering, diversion of funds, stealing and corruption to the tune of N4 billion.

He was alleged to have moved the said sum from the security votes into different accounts, and the money at various times was changed into dollars and returned to him in cash.

Count one of the charge reads: “That you, Chief Willie Maduabuchi Obiano, whilst being the Executive Governor of Anambra State of Nigeria between March 2014 and March 2022, sometime between the 16th February, 2018 and 9th March, 2018 in Abuja, within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, did make cash transaction through a non-financial institution by instructing one Uzuegbuna Okagbue, your then Chief Protocol Officer/Deputy Chief of Staff to transfer the aggregate sum of N223,371,000 (Two hundred and twenty-three million, three hundred and seventy one thousand naira only) from the Anambra State Government Security Vote Account No 5030050875 domiciled at Fidelity Bank Plc into Connought International Services Limited, Fidelity Bank No 5540007709 ( a non-financial institution) which was converted to the equivalent of $600,000 (Six hundred thousand United States dollars) and collected in cash from one Ayuba Tanko and handed over to you in cash by the said Uzuegbuna Okagbue and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 1 of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 (as amended) in 2012 and punishable under Section 16 (2) (b) of the same Act.”

Count four of the charge reads: “That you, Chief Willie Maduabuchi Obiano, whilst being the Executive Governor of Anambra State of Nigeria between March 2014 – March 2022, sometime between 13th February 2018 to 2nd March 2022, in Abuja, within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, indirectly transferred through Mr Willie Nwokoye, your then principal private secretary, the sum of N1, 206, 760,310 Billion (One billion, two hundred and six million, seven hundred and sixty thousand, three hundred and ten naira only) from the Anambra State Government Security Vote Account No. 5030050875 domiciled in Fidelity Bank Plc into the Fidelity Bank Plc Account No. 5600251033, belonging to Moment of Peace Ventures (an entity that had no business relationship with the Anambra State Government) which 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 offense contrary to Section 15 (2) (b) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 (as amended) in 2912 and punishable under Section 15 (3) of the same Act.”

However, he pleaded not guilty to all the charges when they were read to him and the matter was adjourned to March 4–7, 2024, for trial.

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