A Federal High Court in Abuja has ordered a former Governor of Imo State, Mr. Ikedi Ohakim, to open his defence to debunk the charges of money laundering
instituted against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
Justice Adeniyi Ademola made this order in a ruling on Thursday after dismissing the no-case submission filed by the former governor who had claimed that
the evidence led by the prosecution to prove its case had disclosed no prima facie case against him.
The EFCC on July 8, 2015, arraigned Ohakim who was Imo State Governor between 2007 and 2011, on three counts of money laundering.
The prosecution accused Ohakim of purchasing a property at 60, Kwame Nkrumah Street, Plot No 1098, Cadastral ZoneA04, Asokoro District, Abuja with cash
payment of $2.29m which was said to be dollar equivalent of N270m in November 2008.
The offence is said to be contrary to section 1 of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2004 and punishable under Section 15(1)(d) of the same law.
The former governor was also accused of attempting to conceal the ownership of the property by entering into an agreement as a tenant in the property.
The offence is said to be contrary to and punishable under section 14(1b) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act.
Ohakim was also accused of failing to declare the property as part of his assets when asked by the EFCC to do so in January 2014, thereby allegedly committing
an offence under section 27(b) and (c) of the EFCC Act and punishable under the same section.
After the prosecution closed its case with six witnesses and tendering of documentary evidence as exhibits on May 5, 2016, the defendant, through his counsel,
Awa Kalu (SAN), indicated his intention to file a no-case submission, contending that the prosecution’s evidence had linked him (Ohakim) to the commission
of the alleged crime.
He filed the no-case submission in line with provisions of section 303 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015.
Had the application succeeded it would have ended the trial.
But Justice Ademola, in his ruling on the no-case submission on Thursday, held that contrary to Ohakim’s claim, the evidence led by the prosecution had
disclosed prima facie case warranting the former governor to open his defence.
SOURCE: THE PUNCH