N4.5bn Fraud Charge: Ex-Gov. Nnamani’s Absence In Court Again Stalls Trial
The absence of former Governor of Enugu State, Chimaroke Nnamani, at the Federal High Court, Lagos, on Friday stalled his trial over alleged N4.5 billion fraud.
Justice Chuka Obiozor, however, held that the accused must be present to answer to the N4.5 billion fraud charge slammed on him by the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC).
Nnamani was charged alongside his former aide, Sunday Anyaogu, on a 105-count charge bordering on fraud. Also standing trial are Rainbownet Nigeria Ltd, Hillgate Nigeria Ltd, Cosmo FM, Capital City Automobile Nigeria Ltd, Renaissance University Teaching Hospital and Mea Mater Elizabeth High School.
The ex-governor and his co-defendants were alleged to have lodged the money in a secret account with the aim of concealing its source while in office. Newsmen report that the accused and the firms were first arraigned in 2007 for allegedly conspiring to divert about N4.5 billion from the coffers of Enugu State Government. The case which had been handled by no fewer than three judges, was in December 2017 transferred to Justice Obiozor, who fixed Dec.4, 2017 for their re-arraignment.
However, following the failure of Nnamani and Anyaogu to appear in court on Dec. 4 date, the judge had issued a bench warrant for their arrests. At the resumed trial of the case on Friday, the court was informed of the absence of the ex-governor while Anyaogu was present. The judge adjourned the case until Feb. 20 at the instance of the Prosecuting Counsel, Mr Kelvin Uzozie, who pleaded for more time to enable him to “consult” with Nnamani on how to proceed with the case.
Earlier, the court had struck out Nnamani’s application challenging the court’s jurisdiction and seeking an injunction to restrain the EFCC from arresting him. The application was struck out by the judge after Nnamani’s counsel, Mr Ricky Tarfa (SAN) sought to withdraw same.
Tarfa had contended that there was no valid charge against Nnamani before the court. He said a plea bargain had been entered into, leading to the conviction of the 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th and the 8th accused. Uzozie had deflated the argument advanced by Tarfa, saying that the commission had yet to enter into a plea bargain agreement with Nnamani and Anyaogu. He said the commission was working on an amendment of the charge to reflect the proper position.