​N700m fraud: Judge threatens to revoke bail condition for Ize-Iyamu, others

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A Judge in the Federal High Court in Benin City, Justice M G Umar, has threatened to revoke the bail condition granted to a former governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu and four others if they attempt to delay the commencement of the trial of a N700m election fraud case brought against them by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

 

Pastor Ize-Iyamu and others were re-arraigned on an eight-count charge of conspiracy to commit money laundering to the tune of N700 million, an offence contrary to section 18 (a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011 as amended which is punishable under section 15(3) of the same Act.

 

Ize-Iyamu, is being prosecuted by the EFCC alongside former Deputy Governor of Edo State, Lucky Imasuen; PDP chairman in Edo State, Chief Dan Orbih; Tony Aziegbemi and Efe Erimuoghae Anthony.
The EFCC 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 from former Minister of Petroleum, Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke.
The EFCC also said the defendants allegedly made huge cash payments of various amounts to several people without going through a financial institution.

 

Justice Umar issued the threat after listening to arguments of the defendants seeking a six months adjournment because of ill health of Mr. Efe Anthony.

 

Mr Anthony had asked for adjournment till June for him to be able to stand for trial, reminding the Court that they have always been present in court and drew attention to three consecutive times they were in court and the court did not sit.

 

Lead Counsel to the first defendant was Mr Kingsley Obamojie; while Prof. Osas Izebhiuwa represented the second defendant, as Mr Paschal Ogbome represented the third and fourth defendants.  They pleaded with the court to grant the application as Anthony needed to be healthy to appear in court for his defense.

  

But the Prosecution Counsel, Mr L P Aso, said the defendants were unreasonable in their application for six months adjournment.

 

He also argued that the language of the application attempted to frustrate the prosecution through unwarranted delay

 

Justice Umar who threatened to revoke the bail condition adjourned sitting to March 2nd for hearing and maintained that he would not tolerate any form of delay in the prosecution.

 

Meanwhile, there are allegations that Pastor Ize-Iyamu is reportedly attempting to join the All Progressives Congress (APC) to secure a soft-landing in the case.
Sources closely monitoring the trial have also reportedly said that efforts are being made to exploit high-level power play in Abuja to scuttle the case to pave way for Ize-Iyamu to join the APC so as to enable him vie for the party’s governorship ticket for the 2020 gubernatorial election in Edo State with the support of the embattled National Chairman of the APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole.

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