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EFCC arraigns ex-Orient Petroleum MD, 3 others over alleged fraud

Geoffrey Anyanwu, Awka

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has arraigned a former Managing Director of the Orient Petroleum Resources Limited, Nnaemeka Nwawka, and three others over alleged fraud and money laundering.

The others are Jude Cyril Aniekwe, Agbaim Nwachukwu and the registered trustees of Sage Nebeife Foundation.

In the matter, which hearing continued, on Tuesday, at Court I, Federal High Court, Awka, the defendants were arraigned on 10-count-charge of fraud and money laundering.

The charge number FHC/AWK/C/92/2017 reads in part, “That you, Jude Aniekwe Cyril on or about the 20th July 2012 in Anambra within the jurisdiction of this Honourable court did make cash payment to the tune of N15,100,000 which exceeded the stated threshold without passing through financial institution to Agbim Nwachukwu, and thereby committed an offence contrary to section16(1)(d) of the money laundering act 2011 as amended in 2012, and punishable under section 16(2)(a) of same act.

“That you, Nnaemeka Nwawka the registered trustee of Sage Nebeife Foundation and Jude Aniekwe Cyril sometimes between 23rd April to 21 December 2012, within the jurisdiction of this honourable court directly or indirectly took control of the aggregate sum of N110,332,670 which was transferred from Velberg International Limited account domiciled at Standard Chartered Bank account no. 0000777216 into the account of Sage Nebeife Foundation domiciled in First Bank account no. 201745211 when you know that the funds formed part of unlawful activities of Engr. Nwawka to wit, fraud and hereby committed an offence contrary to section15(2)(d) of money laundering(prohibition) act 2011 as amended in 2012.”

The charge further showed that within the period, Nwawka and his fellow defendants took control of the sums of N110 million and N42 million respectively, which were seemed by the EFCC to be acts of money laundering.

When the matter came up, on Tuesday, before Justice I. Gafai, the Prosecuting counsel, Mr. Victor Ukagwu said the matter was for commencement of trial and he had two witnesses, Chief Cletus Ibeto and Chidi Nweke to commence his prosecution.

But counsel to Nwawka, A.C. Ogbuodudu and counsel to second and third defendants, Chief Nnoruka Udechukwu (SAN) objected to his presenting his witnesses.

While Ogbuodudu said he was just brought into the matter and had not gotten the all the facilities to enable him put up defense for his clients, Nnoruka (SAN) drew the attention of the court to a motion in notice which he filed on December 11, 2017 seeking for order of the court directing the Prosecution to furnish the first and fourth defendants all the facilities of the matter.

But Ukagwu stressed that two of his witnesses, Chief Ibeto and Nweke were in Court, ready to testify, and pleaded for the witnesses to be given time to testify, while cross examination could be deferred to a different date.

He said, “I say this because one of my witnesses, Chief Cletus Ibeto is not a man that is so easy to track down. Since he is here today, we can hear his testimony, before adjourning for cross examination to give my friend time to prepare. If we miss this opportunity, it may be hard for us to get it again.”

After the Judge allowed Udechukwu to make the application and he did, the Prosecutor objected to the application relying on two Sections of the law, insisting that facility and time provided by law for the defendants does not cover anything outside the proof of evidence.

After their submissions, Justice Gafai adjourned the matter to February 15, for ruling on the motion and continuation of hearing.

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