The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has filed fraud charges against the Akwa Ibom governor, Emmanuel Udom, and several members of his cabinet. Although, Mr Usoro pleaded not guilty in a Federal High Court Lagos to charges bordering on N1.4 billion fraud.
Mr Udom was charged in a case involving the president of the Nigeria Bar Association, Paul Usoro. The governor is however covered by constitutional immunity.
The EFCC preferred a 10-count charge against Mr Usoro, in a case before Justice Muslim Hassan.
Also named in the charge is the incumbent governor of Akwa Ibom, Mr Udom, who is described in the charge as being “currently constitutionally immune from prosecution”.
Others charged are: The Akwa Ibom State Commissioner for Finance, Nsikan Nkan; Accountant-General of the state, Mfon Udomah; state Attorney-General, Uwemedimo Nwoko, and Margaret Ukpe.
The cabinet members are said to be at large.
In the charge marked FHC/418c/18, the antigraft agency alleged that Mr Usoro committed the offence on May 14, 2016.
It alleged that Mr Usoro conspired with others to criminally convert a N1.4 billion property of Akwa Ibom government. The prosecution said that the unlawful activity include criminal breach of trust which contravenes the provisions of section 15 (2), 15(3), and 18 (A) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011.
On Tuesday, Rotimi Oyedepo, appeared for the EFCC, while Wole Olanipekun appeared with six other senior advocates for Mr Usoro.
Mr Oyedepo told the court that the anti graft agency had successfully served the criminal charge on the accused on Dec. 10, and sought leave of court for the plea of accused to be taken.
In response, Mr Olanipekun confirmed service of the charge on the NBA President, but hinted the court that after it had directed that the accused be served with the charge at the last adjourned date, the accused was asked to report to the commission’s office for service.
He said that there, at the commission, Mr Usoro was kept for two hours before the charge was handed to him, while he acknowledged same, adding that he was kept at the EFCC for another two hours.
He told the court that the EFCC had earlier informed the accused that he will be detained, but eventually let him go.
Mr Olanipekun then informed the court that the team of defence counsel has been informed that there is already a letter written to the chief judge of the court, seeking a transfer of the case to Uyo, Abuja or any other jurisdiction of the court, apart from Justice Hassan’s jurisdiction.
In response, the prosecutor argued that the matter was adjourned until Tuesday for arraignment of the accused, adding that there is nothing before the court that can be construed as setting aside that purpose.