N5.3bn Fraud: Court Strikes Charges against Ex-Enugu Gov, Nnamani, Others

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Davidson Iriekpen
Justice Chuka Obiozor of a Federal High Court in Lagos on Tuesday struck out the new charges filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) against former Enugu State Governor, Dr. Chimaroke Nnamani, over alleged N5.3 billion fraud.

The judge also struck out the entire proceedings leading to the warrant of arrest issued against the former governor.
The decision to strike out the proceedings was at the instance of the prosecutor, Mr. Kelvin Uzozie, who had earlier told the court of the intention of his client, the EFCC, to file new charges with new number against Nnamani, and his former aide, Sunday Onyekazor Anyaogu.

Both Nnamani and Anyaogu, were being tried before the court by the EFCC on charges bordering on alleged N5.3 billion fraud.
But the former governor had challenged the re-arraignment on the grounds that the court lacked the competence to try him and determine the offences against him, especially as a plea bargain agreement had been reached between him, the other defendants and the EFCC.

When the matter came up yesterday, counsel to the former governor, Mr. Rickey Tarfa, said when the matter came up last time, they had filed an affidavit for the termination of the charge of FHC/L/09c/07 which he said had been conceded to by the prosecution.

He informed the court that the affidavit was as a result of the plea agreement which according to him, led to the institution and determination of the charges against the defendants before Justice Mohammed Yinusa of the same court back in July 2015.
The lawyer said in view of the plea bargain agreement entered into by parties, there is no longer any valid charge pending before the court as the matter had been resolved and settled.

He added that the presiding judge, Justice Obiozor, cannot sit on an appeal of his learned brother, Justice Yunusa.
Tarfa also stated that in fairness to the prosecution, as at the time the matter was reassigned, “there was no case to be reassigned” because the case had been settled and resolved.

The EFCC prosecutor, Uzozie, in his response, said after looking at the affidavits filed by the defendant, he was of the view that the entire proceedings should be struck out to enable the prosecution file fresh charges against the defendants.
Ruling on the submissions of the parties, Justice Obiozor held that in view of the plea bargain judgment of the court delivered on the July 7, 2015, there was no valid charge before the court . He therefore expunged the entire proceedings.

“As the learned prosecutor has said, in effect, proceedings with this case will be exercise in futility. I shall order under the Act of this court that I shall expunge the entire proceedings before this court, as there was never a charge before this court. All proceedings before the court is hereby expunged and struke out.”
With the court order, it means that the bench warrant earlier issued by the court against the former Governor, Nnamani, has been discharged, and become null and void.