Proceedings at the Federal High Court sitting in Benin, Edo State capital, were yesterday stalled in a case of alleged money laundering involving top shots of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and a leader of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state.
The suit with number FCH/B/51C/2018 was filed by operatives of the anti-graft agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) against former Secretary to the State Government (SSG) and former South-South Coordinator of President Goodluck Jonathan Campaign Organisation in the 2015 general election, Pastor Osagie Ize- Iyamu; a former Deputy Governor and state caucus leader of the APC, Mr. Lucky Imasuen; a former member of the House of Representatives, Hon. Tony Azegbemi and one Efe Anthony, respectively.
They were expected to be arraigned by EFCC before Justice P. I. Adjokwu, but for the conspicuous ab- sence of Ize-Iyamu and the state chairman of the PDP, Chief Dan Orbih in court. Imasuen and two other allegedly accused persons were in court, but the duo of Ize-Iyamu and Orbih were said to have travelled outside the country.
The accused were, however, granted administrative bail by the court, which sat for less than 20 minutes during the proceedings. But, the EFCC, which insisted that it might rearrest Pastor Ize-Iyamu since he was not in court for his arraignment with others over the alleged money laundering charges, promised to get in touch with his surety on the administrative bail with a view to making effort to re-arrest him. The name of former Chairman, Board of Trustee of the PDP, Chief Tony Anenih, was also listed in the charges.
However, the absence of Ize-Iyamu and Orbih in the court stalled their arraignment. But, the EFCC Counsel, Mr. L.P Aso, told the court that it was the duty of the anti-graft Commission to produce the accused persons and not for the accused persons to bring themselves to court.
Besides, he informed the court that all the accused persons had already filed applications for bail and therefore requested the court to adjourn to enable the EFCC produce all the defendants in court. The accused were alleged to have made cash payments of N60,650,000 to one Henry Tenebe of Estako West Local Government Area and N61,647,000 to one Momoh Andrew Ojo of Akoko-Edo without going through a financial institution.
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