Business News

N4 billion fraud: Trial of former Anambra governor begins today at Abuja court 


A  federal high court sitting in Abuja has fixed today, Monday, for the commencement of the trial of Willie Obiano, former Governor of Anambra State, in the N4 billion security votes fraud charges brought against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). 

The presiding judge, Justice Inyang Ekwo, had adjourned the trial to 24, 25, 26, and 27 of June after dismissing Obiano’s motion seeking to quash the EFCC charges. 

On January 24, 2024, the anti-graft agency arraigned him in court over the alleged diversion of public funds, but he pleaded not guilty to the charges. 

Among other allegations, the former Anambra State Governor Willie Obiano was said to have allegedly transferred over N1.2 billion from the state’s security vote to a company unrelated to government affairs, committing offenses under the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act. 

Security votes are monthly allowances allocated to the 36 states and are to be used for securing the state. 

Naijaonpoint previously reported that EFCC’s lawyer, Sylvanus Tahir (SAN), contended that the EFCC ‘s investigation was not restricted to Security Votes Accounts but also dealt with other allegations of stealing, corruption, abuse of office, and conspiracy. 

Obiano through his lawyer, Onyechi Ikpeazu (SAN), filed a motion on notice seeking an order of the court squashing the instant charge for amounting to flagrant abuse of judicial process and a mockery of the criminal justice. 

He argued that no proof of evidence showed his client passed down a directive for the disbursement of security votes and other funds belonging to the Anambra State government. 

In his ruling, Justice Ekwo held that the issue of proof of evidence is not applicable when a criminal charge is commencing before a federal high court. 

The court held that the EFCC has powers to investigate and prosecute financial crimes including monies emanating from Nigeria’s Federation Account. 

Subsequently, the judge dismissed the ex-governor’s application and fixed it today for the commencement of trial. 

Obiano was placed on the watchlist of the anti-graft agency over allegations of corruption, after the completion of his tenure in 2022. 

Days later, he was arrested at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport and subsequently arraigned. 

The trial had stalled due to the motion filed by the governor which touches on the jurisdiction of the court. 

Naijaonpoint learnt that it is part of the practice direction of the federal high court to quickly address issues on jurisdiction before entertaining a matter.