JUSTICE Adeniyi Ademola of the Federal High Court in Abuja has ordered a former Governor of Imo State, Ikedi Ohakim to defend himself against the charges of money laundering brought against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC. The judge gave the order in a ruling yesterday on the no-case submission made for Ohakim by his lawyers and senior advocates of Nigeria, Awa Kalu and Chris Uche. Justice Ademola, who dismissed the no-case submission, held that the
prosecution has established, through its six witnesses, a prima facie case against Ohakim to warrant his being called upon to enter defence. Ohakim was arraigned before the court on a three- count charge of money laundering on July 8, 2015, to which he pleaded not guilty. The ex-Governor is accused of purchasing a property at 60 Kwame Nkrumah Street, Plot No 1098, Cadastral Zone A04, Asokoro District, Abuja with cash payment of $2.29m which was said to be dollar equivalent of N270m in November 2008. The offence is said to be contrary to section 1 of the
Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2004 and punishable under Section 15(1)(d) of the same law. Ohakim is also accused of attempting to conceal the ownership of the property by entering into an agreement as a tenant in the property. The offence is said to be contrary to and punishable under section 14(1b) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act. He is further accused of failing to declare the property as part of his assets when asked by the EFCC to do so in January 2014, thereby allegedly committing an offence under section 27(b) and (c) of the EFCC Act and punishable under the same
section. The prosecution closed its case on May 5, 2016 after calling six witnesses. Rather than open his defence, Ohakim chose to make a no-case submission. By his no-case submission, the defendant sought to convince the court to dismiss the charge against him on the ground that the prosecution was unable to lead evidence to warrant him to be called upon to defend himself. Had the court upheld the no- case submission, the defendant would have been discharged, but the no-case submission having failed; Ohakim is now required to enter his defence by calling witnesses.