Friday, 9 May 2014

Alleged N25B Scam: Court Summons Former Edo State Governor Igbinedion

Justice J. Liman of the Federal High Court, sitting in Benin-City, Edo State, has ordered a former Governor of Edo State, Mr. Lucky Igbinedion to appear before him, in furtherance of his trial for money laundering, misappropriation and abuse of office.
The judge gave the order on Wednesday in response to an application filed before the court by counsel to the EFCC, Mr. Rotimi Jacob, SAN, seeking an order of the court summoning the former Governor to appear before it.

Earlier, Jacob told the court that: 'Lucky has been ordered by the Appeal Court to return to this court to answer to this very charge, so he must present himself in this court first, and then any other application can follow'.
To this effect, Justice Liman demanded an application from Jacob to allow him issue a summon on Igbinedion. The EFCC’s counsel immediately made an application for the court to issue a summon on Igbinedion and the court granted it.
Recall that a Court of Appeal, sitting in Benin-City, had on April 9th, 2014, upheld the appeal of the EFCC, against the order of acquittal earlier granted Lucky Igbinedion.
Lucky Igbinedion, with his summon by the court, may eventually face trial alongside his younger brother, Micheal Igbinedion and Patrick Eboigbodin and their companies: Gava Corporation Limited, Romrig Nig. Ltd., PMI Securities Co. Ltd. and PML Nig. Ltd. over a N25 Billion scam.
Immediately after Justice Liman gave an order that Igbinedion should henceforth appear in court, defense counsels; J. Kadiri, Ricky Tafa, SAN, and Richard Ahonaruogo, opened their defense and called their first witness Mr. Philip Ehigbe, a retired Accountant General of Edo State, between October 2000 - March 2007 while Igbinedion held sway as Governor.
While giving his testimony in chief, Ehigbe told the court that he attained the pinnacle of his career while in service and retired voluntarily. But on cross examination, Jacob drew his attention to his earlier statement at the EFCC, where he stated that he left service because he was sick.
'You told the court that you attained the pinnacle of your career, but you told the EFCC that you were sick, did you observe the irregularities in both statements?' asked Jacob
Justice Liman, after listening to all submissions, adjourned the matter to Thursday May 8th, 2014, for continuation of trial.
Lucky Igbinedion’s return to trial came through a unanimous decision of three panel of justices led by Justice Helen M. Ogunwunmiju. The other justices are Justice M. M. Saulawa and Justice A. O. Lokulo-Sodipe. They ruled that the former governor should return to the Federal High Court to face trial for money laundering, misappropriation of funds and abuse of office.
The EFCC approached the Court of Appeal sequel to the judgment of Justice Adamu Hobon, then of the Federal High Court, Benin City who dismissed the fresh charge of money laundering filed against the former governor on the ground that he entered a plea bargain with the EFCC and was convicted, that the fresh charge brought against him amounts to double jeopardy.
The appellate court, in upholding the appeal of the EFCC, ruled that there was no agreement between Igbinedion and the EFCC that he would not face trial on fresh allegations and revelations and therefore ruled that Igbinedion should return to the High Court to face trial for money laundering and misappropriation of funds.

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