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Alleged N700m fraud: Judge threatens to withdraw bail for Edo PDP chair, 3 others

Justice M.G. Umar, of the Federal High Court Benin, on Friday, threatened to revoke the bail granted to Mr. Osagie Ize-Iyamu, State Chairman of the PDP, Dan Orbih and three others, if they delayed trial.

Ize-Iyamu and others were arraigned on an eight-count charge of conspiracy and money laundering to the tune of N700 million.

Justice Umar who threatened to revoke the bail condition, adjourned untill  March 2, for hearing.

The judge maintained that he would not tolerate any form of delays in the suit.

The offence runs contrary to section 18(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011 as amended and is punishable under section 15(3) of the same Act.

The EFCC alleged that the defendants received the sum of N700 Million prior to the 2015 general elections, from former Minister of Petroleum, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke.

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Other defendants in the case are former Deputy Governor, Mr. Lucky Imasuen, a former member representing Esan South East and Esan North East federal constituency in the House of Representatives, Tony Azigbemi, and one Efe Erimuoghae Anthony.

Justice Umar, issued the threat after listening to arguments of defendants seeking a six months adjournment, due to ill health of Anthony.

Anthony had asked the court to give him untill June, to stand for trial.

Lead Counsel to first defendant, Mr Kingsley Obamojie, Second defendant’s counsel, Prof. Osas Izebhiuwa and that of the third and fourth defendants, Mr. Paschal Ogbome, pleaded with the court to grant Anthony’s application.

Ugbome urged the court to be fair to all parties and pointed out that, whereas it was inevitable for humans to be indispensable, they had actually striven very hard to ensure that the hearing commenced in earnest.

But the Prosecution Counsel, L.P. Aso, submitted that the defendants were unreasonable in their application for six months adjournment.

”The language of the application is an attempt to frustrate the prosecution through unwarranted delays,” he arged.

The EFCC had said the accused were alleged to have made cash payment of N60,650,000 to one Henry Tenebe of Estako West Local Government Area and N61,647,000 to one Momoh Ojo of Akoko-Ed, without going through a financial institution.

In count five, six and seven, they were alleged to have made cash payment of N83,473,000, N125,993,000 and N105,000,000 to Deacon Ezekiel Egharevba, Thomas Aroko and Scott Osagiede without going through a financial institution. (NAN)