Abuja, NIGERIA — The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has arraigned former Governor of Anambra State, Willie Obiano, on nine counts of alleged N4bn fraud during his time as governor of the South-East state from March 2014 to March 2022.
The 68-year-old was arraigned today (Wednesday) before Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court Abuja.
Obiano pleaded not guilty for the money laundering charges levelled against him.
The prosecution said he has 14 witnesses lined up to testify against the former governor.
After his plea, prosecution counsel, Slyvanus Tahir (SAN), asked for a trial date while praying the court for the remand of the defendant in a Correctional Centre pending the date of the trial.
However, counsel to the defendant, Onyechi Ikpeazu (SAN), drew the attention of the court to a bail application before the court.
Obiano is currently on administrative bail granted him by the EFCC, which includes providing two sureties who are directors in civil service, own landed properties in Abuja.
Justice Ekwo adopted the administrative bail and added that Obiano remains within Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and travel documents be summited to the court going forward.
The court also stated that the immigration be alerted that all travel documents are with the court.
He was arraigned on nine-count charges bordering on money laundering, diversion of funds, stealing and corruption to the tune of N4billion.
Count one of the charge reads: “That you, Chief Willie Maduabuchi Obiano, whilst being the Governor of Anambra State of Nigeria between March 2014 and March 2022, sometime between the 16th February, 2018 and 9th March, 2018 in Abuja, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, did make cash transaction through a non-financial institution by instructing one Uzuegbuna Okagbue, your then Chief Protocol Officer / Deputy Chief of Staff to transfer the aggregate sum of N223,371,000 from the Anambra State Government Security Vote Account No 5030050875 domiciled at Fidelity Bank Plc. into Connought International Services Limited, Fidelity Bank No 5540007709 (a non-financial institution) which was converted to the equivalent of $600,000.00 and collected in cash from one Ayuba Tanko and handed over to you in cash by the said Uzuegbuna Okagbue and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 1 of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 (as amended) in 2012 and punishable under Section 16 (2) (b) of the same Act.”
Count four of the charge reads: “That you, Chief Willie Maduabuchi Obiano, whilst being the Governor of Anambra State of Nigeria between March 2014 and March 2022, sometime between 13th February 2018 and 2nd March 2022, in Abuja, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, indirectly transferred through Mr Willie Nwokoye, your then principal private secretary, the sum of N1,206,760,310 from the Anambra State Government Security Vote Account No: 5030050875 domiciled in Fidelity Bank Plc into the Fidelity Bank Plc Account No: 5600251033 belonging to Moment of Peace Ventures (an entity that had no business relationship with the Anambra State Government) which funds were dissipated for purposes unrelated/unconnected with the security affairs of Anambra State, which you reasonably ought to have known that such funds formed part of the proceeds of your unlawful act, to wit: (Stealing and Corruption) and you thereby committed an offense contrary to Section 15 (2) (b) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 (as amended) in 2912 and punishable under Section 15 (3) of the same Act”.
Shortly after he handed over power to Governor Chukwuma Soludo in Marhc 2022, the EFCC had arrested Obiano at the Murtala Muhammad International Airport, Lagos on his way out of the country to Houston, Texas in the United States.
Last November how the EFCC had placed Obiano on a watchlist. The EFCC later granted Obiano bail after five days in detention whilst the anti-graft commission continued the probe of the ex-governor.