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N700m fraud: Judge threatens to withdraw bail condition for Ize-Iyamu, Dan Orbih, others

Published by The Nation on Sat, 15 Feb 2020

From Osagie Otabor, BeninA judge at the Federal High in Benin City, Justice M G Umar, has threatened to revoke the bail condition granted to Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, Chief Dan Orbih and three others if they try any antics to delay the commencement of their trial.Pastor Ize-Iyamu and others were arraigned on an eight-count charge of conspiracy with themselves to commit money laundering to the tune of N700 million, an offence contrary to Section 18(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011 as amended, which is punishable under Section 15(3) of the same Act.The Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) alleged that the defendants received N700 million prior to the 2015 general elections from former Minister of Petroleum Minister, Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke.Other defendants in the case are Former Deputy Governor, Mr. Lucky Imasuen, a former member representing Esan Southeast and Esan Northeast Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives, Tony Azigbemi, and one Efe Erimuoghae Anthony.Justice Umar issued the threat after listening to arguments of defendants seeking a six-month adjournment because of Mr. Efe Anthonys ill health.Mr Anthony had asked for the long till June for him to be able to stand for trial. He reminded the court that they always came to court and drew attention to three consecutive times when they came and the court did not sit.Lead Counsel to first defendant, Mr Kingsley Obamojie, the second defendants counsel, Professor Osas Izebhiuwa and that of the third and fourth defendants, Mr Paschal Ogbome pleaded with the court to grant the application as Anthony needed to be healthy to appear in court for his defense.Ugbome urged the court to be fair to all parties and pointed out the whereas it was inevitable for humans to be indispensable, they had actually striven very hard to ensure that the hearing commenced in earnest.But the Prosecution Counsel, Mr L P Aso, said the defendants were unreasonable in their application for six months adjournment, arguing thatthe language of the application attempted to frustrate the prosecution through unwarranted delay.Justice Umar, who threatened to revoke the bail condition, adjourned sitting to March 2, for hearing and maintained that he would not tolerate any form of delay in the prosecution.The EFCC had said the accused were alleged to have made cash payment of N60,650,000 to one Henry Tenebe of Estako West Local Government Area and N61,647,000 to another Momoh Andrew Ojo of Akoko-Edo without going through a financial institution.In counts five, six and seven, they were alleged to have made cash payment of N83,473,000, N125,993,000 and N105,000,000 to Deacon Ezekiel Egharevba, Thomas Aroko and Scott Osagiede without going through a financial institution.
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