N4bn theft: Court releases Obiano’s passport for medical trip

The immediate-past governor of Anambra State, Willie Obiano has failed in his bid to quash the N4bn theft charges filed against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.

Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court in Abuja dismissed the preliminary objection filed by Obiano to challenge the powers of the EFCC to try him.

The judge, however, granted Obiano’s prayer for the release of his passport to enable him to embark on a medical trip.

Justice Ekwo, while adjourning till June 27 for the commencement of trial, said Obiano must return his passport to the court on his return from the medical trip.

Obiano, who was arraigned on January 24, faces nine counts bordering on theft of Anambra State security votes to the tune of N4bn.

But in a preliminary objection filed through his lawyer, Onyechi Ikpeazu (SAN), the former governor contended that the EFCC lacked the power to prosecute him.

He urged the court to, therefore, quash the charges, describing them as an abuse of court process.

Obiano maintained that no prima facie case had been established against him.

But in a ruling on Thursday, Justice Inyang Ekwo said the application lacked merit and therefore dismissed it.

Justice Ekwo said since security vote, which is the crux of the matter, is paid from the Federation Account, the Federal High Court had jurisdiction to entertain the case.

“As long as the EFCC Act has not been declared unconstitutional, this court cannot stop the implementation of the Act.

“The powers of the EFCC ought to be a question of law and have bearing in the 1999 Constitution.

“State security vote comes from the Federation Account, making the development a constitutional issue.

On the issue of proof of evidence, Justice Ekwo said the Federal High Court is a court of summary jurisdiction in criminal proceedings.

He explained that summary jurisdiction excuses the use of proof of evidence prior to the commencement of trial.

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