The Federal High Court in Benin has adjourned till October 15 the N700 million money laundering suit filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) against Osagie Ize-Iyamu, governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Dan Osi Orbih Chieftain of People’s Democratic Party, PDP and three others.
The three other defendants in the suit are incumbent state PDP chairman Tony Aziegbemi, former Deputy Governor of Edo State, Lucky Imasuen, and Efe Anthony.
The long adjournment is a huge respite for Ize-Iyamu who is running on the platform of APC in the September 19 governorship election in Edo State as the frequent court appearances had been a big distraction especially this period of electioneering campaigns.
The court had on Thursday, June 18, validated the corruption charges against the defendants.
The case had been stalled Monday July 7 following the inability of the 1st defendant (Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu) to appear in court because he was indisposed.
However, as early as 9:30am on Tuesday, July 14, 2020, Ize-Iyamu had taken his seat in the court room waiting for the case to commence.
The defendants’ Counsel had earlier filed a preliminary objection challenging the jurisdiction of the court to hear the suit. But on Tuesday, July 14, 2020, the EFCC Prosecution Counsel, Ahmed Imoovba, pleaded with the court by way of motion to seek an extension of time to file their reply to the objection.
The presiding judge, Justice Umar Garba, having listened to the counsel, asked them to file whatever they needed to file within seven days as the court would soon embark on vacation. He consequently adjourned the case to October 15, 2020 for further hearing.
Recall that the EFCC in Suit No. FHC/BE21C/ 2016 had filed an eight-count charge against the accused persons for alleged illegal receipt of public funds to the tune of N700 million for the purpose of the 2015 general election.
The EFCC further accused the defendants of conspiring among themselves to commit the offence in March 2015, alleging that they took possession and control of the funds without any contract award.