From Godwin Tsa, Abuja
Former Imo State governor and a Senator representing Imo West, Senator Rochas Okorocha has urged the Abuja division of the Federal High Court is to quash the N2.9 money laundering charge preferred against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
In his notice of preliminary objection challenging the competence of the suit, Okorocha contended that proceeding with the case would constitute to an abuse of prosecutorial powers and abuse of court process.
He predicated his argument on the findings of the PortHarcourt division of the court, in suit marked FCH/PH/FHR/165/2021,which declared his investigation by the EFCC that gave rise to the charge as unlawful and made an order prohibiting the EFCC from further proceeding.”
He, therefore, said that the present 17- count charge “is an abuse of prosecutorial powers and judicial process, as the said declaratory and prohibitory orders were and are still extant, at all times material, before and after the preferment of the charge,” among others.
While describing the suit as being “unlawful, baseless, oppressive and a gross abuse of the process of the court”, Okorocha further sought “an order discharging and/or acquitting the 1st defendant/applicant (Okorocha), pursuant to prayer (1) supra.”
The notice of preliminary objection which was filed by counsel to Okorocha, Wole Olanikpekun,(SAN), said the declaratory and prohibitory orders were and are still extant, at all times material, before and after the preferment of the charge,” among others.
Meanwhile, the EFCC said it received an intelligence report about criminal diversion, abuse of office and money laundering against Okorocha while running the affairs of Imo State government.
The commission said that the intelligence was investigated and confirmed to be true.
Okorocha, who is the 1st defendant, was arraigned alongside Anyim Nyerere Chinenye, Naphtali International Limited, Perfect Finish Multi Projects Limited, Consolid Projects Consulting Limited, Pramif International Limited, and Legend World Concepts Limited as 2nd to 7th defendants respectively.
He was alleged to have laundered funds to the tune of N2.9 billion while serving as governor of Imo State.
Justice Inyang Ekwo adjourned the matter to November 22 to allow EFCC’s counsel, G.K. Latona, respond to the preliminary objection filed by Ola Olanipekun, SAN, on Okorochas’ behalf.
The judge, who said that the application would be taken in the next adjourned date, ordered all parties to file and serve necessary processes before the scheduled date.