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EFCC opens N4bn fraud case against Willie Obiano

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EFCC opens N4bn fraud case against Willie Obiano

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has opened its case in the money laundering trial of Chief Willie Obiano, the former governor of Anambra State, at the Federal High Court, Abuja.

Obiano is facing nine counts brought against him by EFCC, as he was accused of stealing the state’s security votes to the of N4bn during his stint as governor between March 2014 and March 2022.

The EFCC presented two witnesses at the trial on Tuesday.

A bank manager, Mr Tochukwu Nnadi and an Onitsha-based businesswoman, Patricia Egbunam, were led in evidence as first and second prosecution witnesses by the EFCC lawyer, Sylvanus Tahir (SAN).

Nnadi, who entered the witness box as the first prosecution witness, told the court he knew Obiano, adding that the state government maintained various accounts with the bank he worked for, citing one of such accounts as security votes.

He said, “The account (security vote) was mostly funded by the office of the Accountant General of the state and bulk of the funds came from internally generated revenue, of the state.”

He added that payments into the account were made weekly, with all transactions out of the account always based on the advice of the account operators.

“The payments we made from the account were to various entities and corporate organisations,” he said.

He claimed that documents containing the names of all the beneficiaries had already been submitted to the EFCC.

When he was asked by the prosecuting counsel to name the beneficiaries in the open court, he refused, stating that it would amount to a breach of his oath of secrecy.

He said the accounts were funded every week, and cash withdrawals, manager’s cheques, transfers and drafts were instruments used to remove the funds, based on instructions from the operators of the accounts.

“Some of the documents I submitted to the EFCC included the certified true copy of the statements of account, cover letter for the statements of account, packages used to open the account, as well as certificates of identification for each account,” he said.

The court admitted in evidence, 794 pages of documents from the bank, which was tendered as Exhibit PW-1 (A1- A794)

Also, another set of documents dated June 1, 2023, showing the debits made from the accounts, were admitted in evidence.

The second prosecution witness, PW-2, Egbunam, informed the court that she specialised in Turkey wears, adding that on May 20, she received a call that she was needed at the EFCC office over some money which passed through the account of her company, C.I. Party Ventures Nigeria Limited.

She said on arrival at the anti-graft agency’s office, she told the officials she did not know anything about the said money.

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She, however, said her account officer, Mr Ugochukwu Otibelu, only helped her to upgrade her account to meet the requirement of the Embassy of Turkey, based on her request.

“It was to upgrade the account to enable me to travel and the upgrade was for him to help me and post money into my account.

“My account officer accepted my request and collected my company’s account and cheque.

“However, at the EFCC, I was told about N156. 8m passed through my account from the Anambra State government,” she said.

The PW-2 said she had nothing to do with the money in her account, as it did not belong to her, adding that the signatories to her company account were her family members.

She also said she did not know the governor in person or had anything to do for him.

“Outside the fact that the defendant was the governor of Anambra State, I never had any dealings with him,” she said.

The defence lawyer, Dr Onyechi Ikpeazu (SAN), said they would reserve objections to the exhibits and raise them in their final address.

Justice Inyang Ekwo adjourned further hearing till today, Wednesday

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