Alleged ₦4bn fraud: Abuja court lacks jurisdiction to try me – Obiano

THE former governor of Anambra State, Willie Obiano, has said that the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court lacked jurisdiction to try him over the charge bordering on alleged N4 billion fraud preffered against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Obiano, in a motion filed through his lawyers, led by Onyechi Ikpeazu, a senior advocate,on Monday, March 4, challenged the competence of the court to entertain the nine-count money laundering charge.

The former governor argued that an Abuja court should not try him for a crime allegedly committed in Anambra State.

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He also requested that the court drop the accusation against him due to lack of jurisdiction.

But the EFCC’s attorney, Sylvanus Tahir, a senior advocate, asked for more time to respond to the application, which he claimed the defendant had just served him.

Furthermore, the EFCC lawyer pointed out that the Supreme Court had ruled on a few ocassions that a matter involving potential money laundering from any state could be brought before the Federal High Court.

The judge, Inyang Ekwo, postponed the hearing till March 7 in order to consider the motion.

The ICIR reported on Wednesday, January 24that the Federal High Court in Abuja granted bail to Obiano, who is standing trial over an alleged ₦4 billion fraud.

Obiano entered a not-guilty plea when a court official read the charge to him.

Following his plea, the prosecuting attorney, Tahir,  requested that the defendant be kept in detention until the start of the trial.

The defence lawyer, Ikpeazu, attempted to move his client’s bail application. However, the prosecutor responded that he had just received the application and needed more time to respond.

The judge, Ekwo, asked Tahir if the defendant had ever been given bail.

Tahir responded that the prosecution office, the EFCC, gave Obiano conditional administrative bail.

In his ruling, Ekwo granted Obiano bail under the guidelines the EFCC had previously set.

He directed the EFCC to deliver all documentation about the bail requirements to the court within seven days.

Ekwo ordered Obiano not to travel outside his jurisdiction without the court’s permission and to deposit his travel documents with the court, following which the court would notify the Immigration Service about the restriction on his movement outside the jurisdiction.

Ekwo adjourned till March 4 for the commencement of trial.

Obiano was arrested by the EFCC hours after handing over to his successor, Chukwuma Soludo, on Thursday, March 17, 2022, at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, on his way to the United States.



    He was subsequently transferred to the commission’s headquarters, where he was quizzed for days over alleged mismanagement of N5 billion Sure-P funds, N37 billion security votes withdrawn in cash and inflation of contracts.

    On Wednesday, March 23, the EFCC released him on administrative bail.

    Unable to meet some of the conditions, Obiano was held by the EFCC while his friends and associates tried to secure his release.

    Obiano finally met the conditions and was released to his family members.

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