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Why EFCC Arraigned Ex-INEC Chair, Maurice Iwu

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on Thursday, arraigned a former Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Prof. Maurice Iwu, before Justice Chuka Obiozor of the Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos on a four-count charge bordering on money laundering to the tune of N1.2 billion.

According to the EFCC, Iwu, between December 2014 and March 2015, allegedly aided the concealment of the sum of N1, 203, 00,000.00 (One Billion, Two Hundred and Three Million Naira) in Bioresources Institute of Nigeria (BION) Limited’s account number 1018603119 domiciled in the United Bank for Africa (UBA) Plc.

Count one of the charge reads: “That you, Professor Maurice Maduakolam Iwu, between December 2014 and March 27, 2015, in Nigeria within the jurisdiction of this honourable court aided the concealment of the total sum of N1, 203,00,000.00( One Billion, Two Hundred and Three Million Naira) in Bioresources Institute of Nigeria, BION, Limited’s Account No. 1018603119 domiciled in the United Bank for Africa Plc, which sum you reasonably ought to have known forms part of proceeds of unlawful act to wit: fraud and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Sections 18(a), 15(2) (a) of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act, 2011 as amended and punishable under Section 15 ( 3) of the same Act.”

Ex-INEC Chair, Maurice Iwu Photo
Ex-INEC Chair, Maurice Iwu

In the second count, the EFCC alleged, “That you, Professor Maurice MMaduakolam Iwu, between December 2014 and March 27, 2015, in Nigeria, within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, procured Bioresources Institute of Nigeria (BION) Limited retain the aggregate sum of N1, 203,00,000.00( One Billion, Two Hundred and Three Million Naira) in Bioresources Institute of Nigeria, (BION) Limited’s Account No. 1018603119 domiciled in the United Bank for Africa Plc, which sum you reasonably ought to have known forms parts of proceeds of unlawful act to wit: fraud and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Sections 18 (c), 15(2) (c) of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act, 2011 as amended and punishable under Section (5) (3) of the same Act.”

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In view of the fact that the former INEC boss pleaded not guilty to the charge preferred against him, the prosecution counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, asked the court for a trial date and also prayed that the defendant be remanded in prison custody. But on the other hand, defence counsel, Ahmed Raji, SAN, informed the court of a bail application as well as another one challenging the territorial jurisdiction filed on behalf of the defendant. Iwu’s lawyer prayed the court to hear the bail application in view of the age and pedigree of the defendant but in his ruling, Justice Obiozor held that the issue of bail could not be addressed since the defence was challenging the court’s jurisdiction to hear the case.

The defence counsel, thereafter, withdrew the application challenging the territorial jurisdiction.

Consequently, the application was struck out by the court. Counsel to the defendant also prayed that his client be remanded in the EFCC custody pending the hearing of the bail application. The prosecution counsel informed the court that he received the bail application in court today and would need some time to respond.

After listening to both parties, Justice Obiozor adjourned the matter to August 9, 2019 for hearing of the bail application and ordered the defendant to be remanded in the EFCC custody.

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