Obiano Pleads Not Guilty, Granted Bail in N4bn Fraud Case

January 25, 2024
willie obiano 2017 budget

By Adedapo Adesanya

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

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

The judge granted him bail, ordering him not to leave the country unless with the express permission of the court throughout his trial and fixed March 4 for the commencement of trial.

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 was accused of directing the diversion of the total N4,006,573,350 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 cash.

The former governor allegedly stole the money over five years by instructing his Chief Protocol Officer/Deputy Chief of Staff, Mr 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, Mr Sylvanus Tahir, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, on January 15, detailed the nine companies allegedly used to divert 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.

The EFCC alleged in Count 1 that, from February 16, 2018, to March 9, 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 October 30, 2018, to November 13, 2018, a total sum of N95 million was paid from the security vote account into the bank account of S.Y. Panda Enterprises.

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

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

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

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

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

In Count 8, the anti-graft agency alleged that from August 9, 2017, to March 4, 2020, Easy Diamond Integrated Link received a total of N261,268,585 from the state’s security vote account.

In Count 9, the agency alleged that from October 16, 2017, to January 3, 2018, a total sum 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 dollars 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 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 they paid into the bank accounts of the companies were converted into dollars and handed over to the former governor.

It was reported that 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.

Adedapo Adesanya

Adedapo Adesanya is a journalist, polymath, and connoisseur of everything art. When he is not writing, he has his nose buried in one of the many books or articles he has bookmarked or simply listening to good music with a bottle of beer or wine. He supports the greatest club in the world, Manchester United F.C.

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