Anayo Rochas Okorocha, the detained former governor of Imo State, will remain in EFCC custody until Monday, May 30, when he will be arraigned in court on the N2.9 billion money laundering criminal charges brought against him by the Federal Government.
On that date, Okorocha, a presidential candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), will be arraigned before a Federal High Court in Abuja.
The EFCC arrested him on Tuesday in his Abuja home after a nine-hour siege.
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According to EFCC legal department sources, Okorocha was arrested as a proactive measure to force him to appear in court after his continued refusal to appear in court to enter a plea in the money laundering case.
On Monday, March 28, Justice Inyang Eden Ekwo of the Federal High Court in Abuja threatened to dismiss Okorocha’s N2.9 billion money laundering charges if the Federal Government failed to make him appear in court once more.
Following the Federal Government’s failure to serve charges on Okorocha as required by law, the judge threatened to dismiss the charges.
The Federal Government had told Justice Ekwo on March 28 for the second time, through its counsel, Mr Cosmos Ugwu, that he had not been able to see Okorocha and serve him with the charges.
The cousel had informed the court that Okorocha had been evading service, but that he would make efforts and would continue to make efforts until the former Imo State Governor was served with court papers.
He then requested another adjournment to allow the EFCC to do everything possible to serve the court papers in accordance with the law.
His excuse for not being able to reach Okorocha did not sit well with the Judge, who reminded him that the same story was told on February 22 when Okorocha was supposed to enter his plea.
Justice Ekwo had stated categorically that he would not accept the EFCC’s flimsy excuses and would not assist it in doing its job.
The judge reluctantly granted the request for a second adjournment, warning the EFCC that if they did not show seriousness, the case would be dismissed.
EFCC sources told our correspondent at the Federal High Court that the anti-graft agency was forced to use force against Okorocha after he allegedly refused thrice to appear at the Commission’s office in Abuja to be served with the charge.
“The EFCC is a civilised organisation that would not take laws into its own hands, but suspects, especially those in high positions, should always try to respect the law and due process as much as possible so that the law can protect them.”
“Because arraignment in court is not a death sentence, no one should take it for granted.” As in the case of Senator Okorocha, suspects in Nigeria today can only flee, not hide,” he said.
Nobody will be able to bail the Senator out until after his appearance and arraignment in court on Monday, according to the source, who did not want his name used.
Mr Cosmos Ugwu, the EFCC’s lawyer, could not be reached for comment.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, signed the Federal Government’s charges against Okorocha on January 24, 2022.
In the N2.9 billion money laundering criminal charges, Okorocha, a Senator representing Imo West in the National Assembly, will stand trial alongside six others.
The Senator is facing 17 counts of criminal diversion of public funds and property.