N4.5b Money Laundering: Court Issues Bench Warrant On Nigeria ex-Gov. Nnamani
A former Governor of Enugu State, Nigeria Chimaroke Nnamani, standing trial over alleged laundering of N4.5 billion.
Lagos Nigeria. Dec 4, 2017 (AltAfrika)-A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos, Nigeria on Monday issued a bench warrant for the arrest and production in court of a former Governor of Enugu State, Chimaroke Nnamani, over alleged laundering of N4.5 billion.
Nigeria anti-corruption agency, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had arranged Nnamani alongside his former aide, Sunday Anyaogu, six firms namely: Rainbownet Nigeria Ltd, Cosmo FM, Capital City Automobile Nigeria Ltd, Hillgate Nigeria Ltd Renaissance University Teaching Hospital and Mea Mater Elizabeth High School over alleged money laundering
When the case was called on Monday, Mr Kelvin Uzozie announced appearance for the prosecution, while Mr Abubakar Shamsudeen appeared for the accused.
However, prosecution informed the court of the absence of the accused and prayed the court for a bench warrant against the accused, as well as a summons for the sureties to appear and show cause.
The defence counsel, Shamsudeen in his submission urged the court to grant an adjournment until January 2018, to enable counsel to contact family members of the accused and get across to him, stressing that the accused was bed ridden in the U.S. due to a surgery he had undergone and that other accused had entered a plea bargain in the matter.
The trial judge, Justice Chuka Obiozor, in his reaction to Nnamani’ counsel asked him, “you seem to be very knowledgeable in the matter, so tell me when was the plea bargain”?
Responding, Shamsudeen, said he was not so sure of the date but added that it was between May and June, 2015 and the Judge asked, “So from 2015 till now, what happened”?
Shamsudeen told the court that the health condition of the accused was part of the major reason why a plea bargain was made adding that although the first and second accused had pleaded not guilty to the charge before the court, the first accused had interest in the other companies joined as accused.
“A defendant may be guilty or not guilty but the law requires such defendant to appear and stand trial, and the sole duty of the Court is to do justice.
“You are asking for an adjournment till January when this case has lingered on since 2007, which is almost 10 years.
“Justice as we all know is a-three way traffic and once it is lagging, you blame the judiciary.
“This is not a case of more haste and less speed; no, I won’t allow that in my court; this is a 2007 charge and up till now, we are still talking of plea.
“This matter was slated for re-arraignment today, and I have not found any justification for the absence of the accused before this court, to take their pleas.
“There must be an end to litigation; the charge before me was filed in 2007 and it is now 10 years.
“In the peculiar circumstances of this case, and particularly in the absence of any convincing explanation on the absence of the defendants before this court today, it is hereby ordered: “That a bench warrant be issued against the first and second defendants, as well as a summons for the sureties to show cause.
“Consequently, this case is adjourned until Dec. 14, for further proceedings”.
Ex-Gov. Nnamani was earlier arraigned before Justice Tijani Abubakar and re-arraigned before Justice Charles Archibong when Tijani Abubakar was elevated to the Court of Appeal and later re-arraigned before Mohammed Yinusa, when Justice Archibong retired.
When he was re-arraigned on a 105-count charge of money laundering and economic crime, to the tune of N4.5 billion, the case was also reassigned to Obiozor, to start afresh.