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Court Dismisses Obiano’s Challenge to EFCC’s Prosecution Powers

A Federal High Court in Abuja has rejected an application by former Anambra State Governor Willie Obiano, challenging the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission’s authority to prosecute him. Obiano was arraigned on January 24 and is facing nine charges related to alleged N4 billion theft.

In a preliminary objection filed by the defendant through his lawyer, Onyechi Ikpeazu, SAN, Obiano argued that the EFCC lacked the power to prosecute him. He also called for the charges to be quashed, citing abuse of court process and absence of a prima facie case. However, Justice Inyang Ekwo ruled that Obiano’s application lacked merit and should be dismissed, allowing the prosecution to proceed.

The EFCC’s lawyer, Sylvanus Tahir, SAN, had urged the court to refuse the motion of the ex-governor, stating that the investigation into the financial affairs of Anambra State Government was not restricted to Security Votes Accounts. The prosecution added that the investigation dealing with allegations of stealing, corruption, abuse of office, conspiracy, etc. was still underway and nearing completion.

Obiano, through his lawyer, Onyechi Ikpeazu SAN, filed a motion on notice seeking an order of the court to squash the instant charge, arguing that his client could not be made answerable for any purported unlawful actions of officials of Anambra State government. The defendant’s lawyer also disclosed that there was already an appeal filed by the Anambra State government challenging the powers of the EFCC to investigate the security vote of the Anambra State government.

Justice Ekwo held that the Federal High Court was a court of summary jurisdiction in criminal proceedings, and that summary jurisdiction excused the use of proof of evidence before the commencement of trial. The judge also held that the appeal court judgment referenced by the defendant had been determined in EFCC’s favor by the Supreme Court.

Subsequently, the judge dismissed the ex-governor’s application, stating that none of the provisions of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) upon which the applicant relied in his application, had any bearing on this case. The court also granted the application for the defendant to travel, and adjourned the trial to 24, 25, 26, and 27 June

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