Godwin Tsa, Abuja
A former Governor of Imo State, Chief Ikedi Ohakim, was on Wednesday arraigned before a High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, on three-count criminal charges by the Inspector-General of Police.
In the charge marked, FCT/HC/CR/993/2020, that Ohakim, who was governor of Imo state from 2007 to 2011, gave false information against Lady Chinyere Amuchienwa.
The prosecuting agency further alleged that the erstwhile governor lied that the lady threatened him with a gun, and equally made a false claim that he had a plot of land for sale in Lagos.
However, at about 9:42 am, when Ohakim was put in the dock, he pleaded not guilty to all the charges as they were read to him by the registrar of the court.
Clad in a brown caftan with a cap to match, the former governor denied all the allegations contained in the charge sheet.
Consequently, his counsel, K.C Njemanze (SAN), moved a written bail application brought pursuant to sections 158 and 163 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA), 2015 and section 36(5) of the 1999 constitution.
The defence counsel while praying that bail should be granted to his client on self-recognizance argued that the alleged offence was bailable in nature.
Besides, he added that as a former governor of a state, he will not jump bail but will always be available to stand his trial.
Njemanze further submitted that his client has reasonable Nigerians to stand as his sureties and would not interfere with the case.
On his part, the prosecution counsel, Mr Stanley Nwodo, in an 11- paragraphs counter-affidavit, vehemently opposed to the bail application.
Although he conceded that the alleged offences are bailable in nature, he, however, urged the court to exercise its discretion with caution given the antecedent of the defendant.
Nwodo added that the defendant who has the capacity of interfering with the case has several warrants to his name.
After considering the arguments and submissions for and against the bail application, the court said it was minded to exercise its discretion in favour of the defendant.
In her ruling, Justice S. U. Bature granted the defendant bail in the sum of N10 million with one surety in like sum.
The surety according to the court, must be a reputable Nigerian resident within the jurisdiction of the court.
In addition, the surety must furnish the court with his permanent address.
Meanwhile, the matter has been adjourned to January 25, 2021, for trial.
In the three-count charge singed by Mr Stanley Nwodo of the Force Legal Department dated September 23, 2020, the office of the Inspector General of Police also accused Ohakim of using the name of the Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola (SAN), to defraud unsuspecting Nigerians.
In addition, the prosecution alleged that Ohakim claimed in his statement to the police that he gave Lady Chinyere Lilian Amuchienwa the sum of N100 million for his governorship in 2019, which he could not prove in the statement.
Earlier attempts by the police to arraign the former Imo state chief executive in court on a similar charge were unsuccessful.
The three-count charge against Ohakim, signed by Mr Stanley Nwodo read:‘
“That you Ikedi Ohakim, on or about the 23rd day of May 2019 at Asokoro, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court did unlawfully gave false information against one Chinyere Amuchienwa, that she threatened you with gun knowing it to be false and thereby committed an offence punishable under section 140 of the Penal Code Law of the Northern Nigeria, 1968.”
“That you Ikedi Ohakim, on or about the 23rd day of May 2019, at Asokoro, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court did unlawfully gave false information against one Chinyere Amuchienwa, that you have a plot of land for sale at Lagos state, knowing it to be false and thereby committed an offence punishable under section 140 of the Penal Code Law of the Northern Nigeria, 1968.”
“That you Ikedi Ohakim on or about the 23rd day of May 2019 at Asokoro, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court did unlawfully used derogatory the name of Raji Fashola as the owner of the purported land situated at Ikeja, Lagos state and thereby committed an offence punishable under section 140 of the Penal Code Law of the Northern Nigeria, 1968.”