Alleged fraud: Court grants Okorocha N500m bail as ex-governor sues Malami, EFCC

The Federal High Court in Abuja has granted bail to a presidential aspirant and former governor of Imo State, Rochas Okorocha.

He was granted bail on Tuesday by Justice Inyang Ekwo in the sum of N500 million and a surety in like sum.

Justice Inyang Ekwo gave the order while ruling on the bail application filed by Okorocha who currently represents Imo West senatorial district in the National Assembly.

The former governor is being tried on a 17-count charge to the tune of N2.9 billion filed against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

He was accused of conspiring with others, including a member of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and five companies to steal from public coffers, although he has since denied any wrongdoing.

Okorocha was arraigned alongside his co-defendants on Monday by the antigraft agency before Justice Ekwo in the nation’s capital.

During their arraignment, the former governor, the second defendant – Nyerere Anyim, and the companies indicted all pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Thereafter, counsel to Okorocha, Mr Okey Amaechi, prayed the court to release his client on bail, pending the determination of the case against him.

He drew the attention of the court to the fact that his client was roughly arrested last Tuesday before the screening of the presidential aspirants of the All Progressives Congress (APC), stressing that his ambition was at risk should he remain in detention.

On its part, the EFCC, through its lawyer, Mr Gbolahan Latona, informed the court that Okorocha raised some issues in his bail application that would require its response.

Justice Ekwo had, thereafter, adjourned the matter until Tuesday to hear Okorocha’s bail application and ordered that he should remain in EFCC custody.

When proceedings resumed Tuesday, Justice Ekwo ordered that the surety to be produced by Okorocha must be a responsible citizen who has landed property in the like sum of the bail granted to the presidential aspirant.

The judge also directed Okorocha to deposit his international passport with the registry of the court and should not travel outside the jurisdiction of the court without the court’s permission.

Similarly, he ordered the court registry to inform the Nigeria Immigration Service that Okorocha’s international passport was in its custody.

Justice Ekwo, however, ordered that the former governor should remain in the custody of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) until his bail conditions were met.

In his response, counsel to Okorocha, Okey Amaechi, informed the court that his client was ready to meet the bail conditions.

For Anyim, the court ruled that he should continue to enjoy the administrative bail earlier granted to him.

Meanwhile, the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission have been sued by  Sen Rochas Okorocha over an alleged breach of his fundamental human rights.

Okorocha was forcefully arrested by the  Operatives of the EFCC last Tuesday, after over six hours of the anti graft agency  laying siege to his Maitama Abuja home.

The EFCC in their defense said the move was needed  after Okorocha jumped an administrative bail granted to him by the commission.

It also said he evaded service of court papers in his trial at an Abuja court on charges of conspiracy, stealing, and laundering N2.9 billion of Imo State funds.

Okorocha, in a suit filed through his counsel, Mike Ozekhome (SAN) told the court that on May 24, the respondents invaded his home in Abuja, depriving him and members of his family access to their private and family life while surrounding his apartment with heavy armed men.

He prayed the court declares the action as “illegal, null and void”.

Okorocha also prayed the court for a perpetual injunction restraining the respondents from arresting, detaining or keeping him in custody.

The senator asked the court to order the respondents to pay him N1 billion as general damages and apologize to him publicly.

The court document read, “A DECLARATION that the siege over the house of the Applicant, at No. 3 Nyasa Close Mississippi, Of Ontario Crescent Abuja, by the officers and men of the 1st Respondents on 24th May, 2022, without any legal justification whatsoever, thereby denying the Application his Constitutional rights to private family life is unconstitutional, illegal, wrongful and a flagrant abuse of the fundamental rights of the Applicant contrary to Section 33, 35, 37,38 and 40 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999(as amended).

“2. A DECLARATION that the seige over the house of the Applicant at No. 3 Nyasa Close, Mississippi, Off Ontario Crescent, Abuja, by the officers and men of the 1st Respondent on the the 24th May, 2022, without any legal justification whatsoever, thereby depriving the Applicant, freedom of movement and also denying the Applicant’s family members, political colleagues, friends and well wishers access to the Applicant, is illegal, wrongful, unconstitutional and amounts to an abuse of the fundamental rights of the Applicant as provided for under Section 34 and 35 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) and Article II of the African Charter on Human and People’s Right (Ratification and Enforcement) Acts, Cap 10, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria.

“3. A Declaration that the attempt on the life of the Applicant, by the 1st Respondent through the officers working under them, who shot sporadically at the Applicant’s compound broke into the Applicant’s home through the roof top all the way into his bedroom and immediately apprehended the Applicant’s family members phones, including that of the Applicant on the 24th May, 2022, is illegal, unlawful, wrongful, unconscionable, unconstitutional and constitute a flagrant and reckless violation and or threat to violate the Applicant’s right to life, as provided for under, Section 33 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999(as altered).”

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