The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Monday brought former Imo State Governor, Rochas Okorocha before a Federal High Court in Abuja for arraignment over N2.9 billion corruption charges.
While in court, Okorocha pleaded not guilty to the N2.9 billion corruption charges brought against him by the Federal Government.
Denying all the charges laid against him, the presidential aspirant under APC has engaged the services of four Senior Advocates of Nigeria, SANs, comprising Okey Amaechi, Solomon Umor, Ola Olanipekun, and Kehinde Ogunwumiju to defend him from the allegations against him.
Justice Inyang Ekwo who took his plea, however, ordered his further detention till May 31st when his bail application would be argued.
Shortly after taking the plea, Okorocha’s counsel, Okey Amaechi told the court that he had filed an application for the bail of his client and had also served the same on EFCC.
He attempted to argue the application but was opposed by the anti-graft agency which claimed that it intends to file a counter-affidavit against the bail issued.
EFCC counsel, Gbolahan Latona, who informed the court that 15 witnesses have been arranged to testify against the former Governor, also asked the judge for an adjournment to enable him assemble witnesses that will testify during the trial.
Although the EFCC’S lawyer sought an adjournment to June 1 for arguments on bail, Justice Ekwo ruled that he would take all the bail applications on May 31st and directed the EFCC to endeavor to file its opposition within time.
The Senator representing Imo West in the National Assembly, is being put on trial by the Federal Government on 17-count charges involving criminal diversion of public funds and properties from Imo State Government House accounts and that of Imo State Local Government Joint accounts to private companies.
The alleged fraud was said to have been perpetrated by Okorocha and one Anyim Inyerere with the use of their private companies between 2014 and 2016 when he held sway as the Executive Governor of Imo State.
Recall that Okorocha was forcefully arrested last Tuesday in his Abuja residence by EFCC operatives as part of efforts to ensure his appearance in court today.
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.