Nigeria: EFCC Charges Ex-Governor With Stealing N4 Billion From Anamnbra Security Vote

The money laundering charges detailed how Mr Obiano allegedly used none companies to steal over N4 billion from the Anambra State Government Security Vote Account.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has charged former Anambra State Governor Willie Obiano with money laundering offences involving stealing of over N4 billion from the state’s security vote account.

He denied the charges contained in nine counts during his arraignment before the trial judge, Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court in Abuja, on Wednesday.

He faces nine counts of money laundering, including bypassing of financial institution in several unlawful cash transactions involving money allegedly stolen from the state’s account. The amount of cash involved in the transactions were said to be beyond legally permitted cash limits.

The charges also involve spending of funds allegedly stolen from the state’s security vote account for other purposes.

The judge, Mr Ekwo, granted him bail, ordering him not to leave the country unless with express permission of the court throughout the period of his trial.

The judge fixed 4 March for commencement of trial.

Allegations

Mr Obiano, who was governor from March 2014 to March 2022, allegedly diverted the money from the state’s account dedicated to security funds in his last five years in office.

He allegedly directed the diversion of the total N4,006,573,350 (about N billion) from the state’s account between April 2017 and March 2022, and spent the money for “purposes unrelated/unconnected with the security affairs of Anambra State”.

The funds, according to EFCC, were diverted through companies “that had no business relationship with the Anambra State Government,” converted to dollars and handed over to the former governor in dollar cash.

The former governor allegedly stole the money over a period of five years by instructing his Chief Protocol Officer/Deputy Chief of a staff, Uzuegbuna Okagbue, to transfer on various occasions various sums of money from the state government’s security vote account with Fidelity Bank into the account of the various companies.

The case, filed through EFCC’s lead prosecuting counsel, Sylvanus Tahir, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, on 15 January, detailed the nine companies allegedly used for diverting the funds from the state government’s security vote account.

Each of the nine counts disclosed the amount a company received and the period it received it from the state government’s account.

Nine counts

For instance, the EFCC alleged in Count 1 that, from 16 February 2018 to 9 March 2018, an aggregate sum of N223,371,000 was paid from the security vote account into the account of Connought International Services Limited.

Count 2 alleged that from 30 October 2018 to 13 November 2018, a total sum of N95million was paid from the security vote account into the bank account of S.Y. Panda Enterprises.

In Count 3, EFCC alleged from 11 April 2017 to 21June 2019, a total of N416,000,000 was diverted from security vote account into the account of Zirga Zirga Trading Company Limited.

In Count 4, the anti-corruption agency alleged that from 13 February 2018 to 2 March 2022, a total of N1,206,760,310 was paid into thr account of Moment of Peace Ventures.

The commission similarly alleged in Count 5 that from 5 April 2018 to 28 May 2019, an aggregate sum of N860,716,200 was paid into the account of Youdooh Ventures.

Also in Count 6, EFCC alleged that from 28 January 2020 to 15 January 2021, a total sum of N659,112,900 was paid to Nazdal Ventures.

In like manner, the commission alleged in Count 7 that from 7 February 2018 to 18 February 2019, C.I Patty Ventures Nigeria Limited received a total sum of N156,800,000.

In Count 8, the commission alleged that from 9 August 2017 to 4 March 2020 Easy Diamond integrated Link received a toyal of N261,268,585 from the state’s security vote account.

In Count 9, the agency alleged that from 16 October 2017 to 3 January 2018, a total su of N127,544,355 was paid from the security vote account of Anambara State Government into the account of Xpress Consult Nig. Limited.

EFCC alleged that the funds, much of which were converted to dollar and handed over to Mr Obiano in cash “were dissipated for purposes unrelated/unconnected with the security affairs of Anambra State.”

The counts detailed how the money was paid in tranches over a period of time from the Anambra State Government Security Vote Account domiciled at Fidelity Bank into the accounts of nine companies allegedly used for the diversion.

Much of the funds after they paid into the bank accounts of the companies converted into dollar and handed over to the former governor.

Hours after Mr Obiano handed over as Anambra State Governor on 17 March 2022, EFCC had arrested him at the Murtala Muhammad International Airport, Lagos, as he was preparing to board a flight to Houston, the United States.

He was released on bail days after interrogations in EFCC custody.

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