The Federal High Court in Abuja has dismissed a no-case submission filed by a former Imo State Governor, Ikedi Ohakim.
Justice Adeniyi Ademola struck out Ohakim’s suit which was filed through his counsel, Awa Kalu, against the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The anti-graft agency made the ruling public on Thursday in a statement by its Head of Media and Publicity, Wilson Uwujaren.
Mr Ohakim is facing trial for allegedly making a cash payment to the tune of $2,290,000.00 (about 270,000,000 Naira) for the purchase of a property in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital.
One of the counts reads: “That you, Ikedi Ohakim, on or about the January 26, 2013 in Abuja within the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court, while under arrest for an offence under the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission Establishment Act, 2004 knowingly failed to make a full disclosure of your assets by not declaring your ownership of the property known and described as Plot No. 1098 Cadastral Zone A04, Asokoro District- it is also known as No.60, Kwame Nkurumah Street, Asokoro, Abuja and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 27(3)(c) of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission Establishment Act, 2004 and punishable under the same section”.
The former governor had pleaded not guilty to the three-count charge when it was read to him.
Consequently, the prosecution presented a number of witnesses and tendered several documents, which were admitted in evidence to prove its case against the defendant before it closed its case.
At the last hearing on June 6, the defence filed a no-case submission against the prosecution.
In his ruling on Thursday, Justice Ademola stated that the prosecution had been able to establish its case against the defendant.
The case has been adjourned till October 10 and 13 for the commencement of the defence.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has commenced the prosecution of a former Governor of Imo State, Ikedi Ohakim, for alleged money laundering charges.
Mr Ohakim, who was Imo State Governor between 2007 and 2011, is facing a three-count charge of money laundering, arising from his alleged purchase of a house at Asokoro District of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, with cash payment of dollar equivalent of 270 million Naira in November 2008.
The first prosecution witness, Mr Dauda Ishaya, a Senior Detective Superintendent with the EFCC, who was led in evidence by the prosecution counsel, Mr Festus Keyamo, accused Ohakim of initially lying to be a tenant in the property until he was confronted with the statements of those who were involved in the purchase of the property.
According to the witness, the property is located at 60, Kwame Nkrumah Street, Plot No 1098, Cadastral Zone A04, Asokoro District, Abuja.
After the hearing on Tuesday, the case was adjourned till November 12, 2015 for continuation.
A Federal High Court in Abuja has granted bail to a former governor of Imo State, Mr Ikedi Ohakim, who is standing trial on charges of corruption, abuse of office and money laundering.
This came one day after he was remanded in the custody of the EFCC.
Justice Adeniyi Ademola released the former governor on bail on the condition that he will provide one surety in the sum of 270 million naira and who must be a resident of the Federal Capital Territory and also own a property in the nation’s capital.
He, however, said that the surety can in the alternative swear to an affidavit of means which must be verified by the Deputy Chief Registrar of the Federal High Court in Abuja.
He also ordered the former governor to deposit his passport and all travel documents with the court.
Mr Ohakim, who pleaded not guilty to the 3-count charge of corruption, abuse of office and money laundering was surrounded by his lawyers and family members as he appeared in court
In his application for bail, Mr Ohakim, through his counsel, submitted that the offence for which he is standing trial is a bailable offence and since the prosecution has concluded investigation, there is no reason to keep him in custody.
He urged the court to grant him bail in the most liberal terms.
In his ruling, Justice Adeniyi Ademola said that the court exercised its discretion in favour of the accused because the offences for which he is standing trial are bailable and an accused person is presumed innocent until proven guilty.
Former Governor of Imo State, Mr Ikedi Ohakim has been released by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Ohakim spent less than five hours with the anti-graft Agency, before he was left to go home
The EFCC operatives had on Thursday arrested Mr Ohakim after he failed to honour an invitation on Wednesday to answer questions on an ongoing investigation into allegations of corruption and embezzlement while he was in office.
Mr Ohakim served as governor of the south eastern state between 2007 and 2011.
The People’s Democratic Party (PDP) has asked a Federal High Court in Abuja for an order declaring the seats of the five governors who defected to the All Progressives Congress (APC) vacant.
The governors are: Murtala Nyako (Adamawa), Rotimi Amaechi (Rivers), Magatakarda Wamakko (Sokoto), Rabiu Kwankwaso (Kano) and Abdulfatai Ahmed (Kwara).
Named as defendants in the suit along with the five governors is the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
The party is also asking the court to order the Houses of Assembly of the affected states to impeach the governors.
In the suit filed by Dr. Alex Izinyon, the party cited sections 177 (c), 221 and 222 (c) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as a ground for the court to declare them ineligible to remain in office as governors having defected to APC.
The court was equally asked to make a declaration that in the absence of any division in the PDP, the five governors have vacated or forfeited their seats upon their defection to the APC.
APC Warns PDP To Back Off
The All Progressives Congress (APC) had last week cautioned the PDP against declaring vacant the seats of the five governors saying “apart from being illegal and smacking of double standard, such a move has the potential to plunge the polity into chaos.”
The party, in a statement by its Interim National Publicity Secretary, Lai Mohammed, said “any attempt by the PDP to act in desperation and declare the governors’ seats vacant will be met with an unprecedented show of people power that will end, once and for all, the impunity of the PDP and the Presidency.”
According to the statement, “APC has irrefutable evidence that the PDP is desperately shopping for a pliant judge who will be heavily induced to declare vacant the seats of the five governors who recently defected to the APC. We also have the name of the lawyers who have been retained by the PDP for this hatchet job.
‘’We are in possession of the various nefarious legal options being explored by the PDP and the Presidency, but we hereby serve a strong notice to the duo that any attempt by anyone through any means other than what is provided for in Section 188 of the 1999 Constitution as amended, will not only have grave consequences, but will leave the polity severely bruised.
‘’We wish to state unequivocally that should the PDP go ahead with this plan, there will be widespread repercussions as the APC has resolved that henceforth, every act of impunity of the PDP and the Presidency will be met with stiff resistance in the form of a vociferous telegraphing of people power, the likes of which have not been witnessed.’’
APC also warned against any attempt by the PDP and the Presidency to “turn back the hands of the clock as far as the cleaning up of the judiciary is concerned, by inducing a servile and disreputable judge to do the duo’s bidding.
Accusing the PDP of engaging in double standard, APC said “For all of 14 years, elected members of the State Houses of Assembly, as well as the National Assembly have been defecting mostly to the PDP and no court has ever declared their seats vacant.
“The late Senator Wahab Dosunmu and Senator Adeseye Ogunlewe, then of the Alliance for Democracy (AD) blazed the trail when they decamped to the PDP within a year of their election. Since then, scores of elected lawmakers at state and federal levels have defected to the PDP without any eyebrows being raised or anyone declaring their seats vacant.
“When Governors Ikedi Ohakim of Imo State and Theodore Orji of Abia State, both elected on the platform of the PPA, and Governor Isah Yuguda of Bauchi State, who was elected on the platform of the then ANPP, defected to the PDP, nobody declared their seats vacant.
“As a matter of fact, the PDP under the late President Umar Musa Yar’Adua organised an elaborate reception to welcome Yuguda to the PDP. Why then should the case of the five PDP governors who have joined the APC be different? Why is the PDP suddenly afraid of taking the same medicine it has been administering to others? Does it mean that all the bravado that has been displayed by the PDP, which says it is not bothered by the defection of the five governors, is just a facade to hide its deep pain at the monumental loss?’’ APC queried.
The opposition party urged the PDP to go and read and be guided by the ruling of the Supreme Court after it (PDP) allegedly attempted to make the then Vice-President, Atiku Abubakar, to lose his seat and to also strip him of his privileges following his defection to the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN).
The Supreme Court in Nigeria has fixed January 24, 2014 for judgment on the suit filed by the governor of Imo State, Mr Rochas Okorocha challenging the decision of the Appeal Court in Owerri to allow Mr Ikedi Ohakim to join in the suit filed by Mr Ifeanyi Ararume.
Mr Ararume, who was the governorship candidate of the Action Congress of Nigeria in the 2011 governorship election, had challenged the constitutionality of the May 6 supplementary election that brought Okorocha to power.
Mr Ohakim was the governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
At the resumed hearing of the suit in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital, counsel to governor Okorocha, Mr Niyi Akintola adopted his brief of argument and prayed the court to rule in his favour.
The lawyer to the PDP, Mr Wole Olanipekun however informed the court of a preliminary objection he filed, saying the appeal by Governor Okorocha is an incompetent one.
Mr. Awa Kalu representing Mr. Ifeanyi Ararume, who did not challenge the suit, stressed that every litigant had a right of appeal.
It will be recalled that the Court of Appeal in a ruling delivered by Justice Hussein Mukhtar has dismissed Okorocha’s objection to Ohakim’s application and consequently made Ohakim an appellant in the case.
Okorocha in his Supreme Court appeal argued that Ohakim’s party, the PDP, had earlier challenged the subject matter of the suit at the election petitions tribunal and lost arguing further that the PDP also challenged the decision of the election tribunal at the Supreme Court and lost.
According to him, allowing Ohakim to challenge the high court’s judgment on appeal was to afford him the opportunity to pursue two remedies against the same infraction in two courts at the same time.