Alleged N2.9bn fraud: EFCC clears coast for Okorocha’s arraignment


The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has cleared the coast for formal arraignment of ex-Imo State Governor, Rochas Okorocha, with the service of the criminal charges on his person in the detention facility.

Okorocha was said to have been handed a copy of the charge on Sunday evening preparatory for his appearance in court on Monday, May 30 to take his plea.

It was gathered that Okorocha, now a Senator representing Imo State in the Senate was made to personally sign for the charge to clear the legal hurdle for the arraignment.

Our correspondent learnt that immediately the former governor acknowledged receipt of the charge, he was permitted to phone about five lawyers on the development and to decide the next line of action.

The All Progressives Congress (APC) Presidential aspirant had been absent in court twice for arraignment on the excuse that the charge was not personally served on him as required by law.

But the anti-graft agency through its lawyer alleged at the Federal High Court in Abuja that Okorocha, upon the administrative bail granted him refused to pick phone calls from the agency while text messages sent to him to report in court were not honoured.

EFCC’S counsel, Mr Cosmos Ugwu could not be reached for comments on the latest development but a source said it was a good development for the agency.

“All we are after is to move him to court on May 30 for the arraignment and we have substantially achieved that with the service of charge on him.

“You will recall that the challenge of EFCC has been on how to get him served and we have crossed that hurdle now. I can confirm to you that Okorocha will be made to appear in court. We will help him to court”, the source said.

Okorocha was forcefully arrested on Tuesday in his Abuja residence by EFCC operatives as part of efforts to ensure his appearance in court on Monday.

It will be recalled that Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court, Abuja had on Monday, March 28, issued a threat to strike out the N2.9 billion money laundering charges against Okorocha should the Federal Government fail again to cause his appearance in court.

The judge had threatened to throw out the charges following the inability of the Federal Government to serve charges on Okorocha as required by law.

At the March 28 proceedings, the Federal Government, for the second time through its counsel, Mr Cosmos Ugwu, had told Justice Ekwo that he has not been able to see Okorocha and serve him with the charges.

The Federal Government’s charges against Okorocha dated January 24, 2022, was signed by one A.O Ikota on behalf of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.

Okorocha, who is currently a Senator representing Imo West in the National Assembly, is to face trial alongside six others in the N2.9 billion money laundering criminal charges.

The senator is being put on trial by the Federal Government on 17-count charges involving criminal diversion of public funds and properties.