By Osaigbovo Iguobaro, Benin
A Federal High court in Benin has remanded the former deputy governor of Edo state, Lucky Imasuen, state chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the party’s standard bearer for the 2015 Governorship election, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu along with two aides to Chief Tony Anenih in prison custody.
They were remanded in prison custody along with Mr. Anthony Aziegbemi and Efe Erimuoghae, by the trial judge, Justice Justice P. I Ajokwu, following their failure to meet their N10 million bail condition for each accused persons on Thursday.
The accused persons are standing trial in 8-count charge in the N700 million money laundering case with charge No. FHC/B/51c/2018 bothering on conspiracy among themselves to commit the offence sometime in March, 2015.
They however pleaded not guilty to the offences which contravenes section 15(2)(d) of the Money Laundering (prohibition) Act 2011 as amended” when it was read to them.
Part of the charges read: “that you Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, Lucky Imasuen, tony Azigbemi, Chief Dan Orbih, Efe Erimuoghae Anthony and Chief Tony Anenih (now at large) did accept cash payment of the sum of N700 million from Chika Kenneth without going through a financial institution; and thereby committed an offence contrary to section (1)(a) of the money laundering prohibition act 2011.
During their arraignment on Thursday, Counsels to the 1st to the 5th defendants had laboured to convince the court to consider and grant the bail applications for the accused persons on self recongnizance.
But, the Prosecuting Counsel, L. P Aso who led two others, objected to their bail applications of the accused person, alleging the likelihood by the accused persons to frustrate their trial.
He particularly referred to the absence of the 1st and 3rd defendants which he claimed truncated their arraignment in court on 16th May 2018.
Mr. Aso further stated that the alleged refusal of the 1st defendant (Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu) and 3nd defendant (Chief Dan Orbih) to submit themselves for their fingerprint and bio data while in EFCC custody in line with Section 15 of the Criminal Justice Act for record purpose as his reasons for his position.
However, Chief Charles Edosomwan (SAN), punctured his assertion which he described as unfounded. He thereafter drew the court attention to a document where the fingerprint of the 1st defendant was obtained by the EFCC along with his medical record.
On his part, Counsel to the 2nd defendant (Dr. O G. Izevbuwa), 3rd defendant (Kehinde Ogunmiju), 4th defendant (Ferdinard Orbih (SAN) and Prof. Jim Akhere, Counsel to the 5th defendant in their separate reply, said that for their Clients to have wilfully submitted themselves to the anti-graft agency was sufficient proof that they will not jump bail.
Consequently, the bail applications and further counter affidavit which were consolidated in a straight jacket by the court and thereafter adopted by the various Counsels.
Delivering his ruling, Justice P. I Ajokwu who cited the relevant Sections of the law, granted bail to the 1st to 5th defendant in the like sum of N10 million each with a surety who must either be a Special Grade level 16 officer in the state of Federal Civil Service or a property owner with a Certificate of Occupancy (C/O) in Benin City.
The judge also turned down the plea of the Counsel to the 1st defendant, Charles Edosomwan (SAN), urging the court to remand the accused persons in EFCC custody.
The court also struck out the fundamental rights case presented before the court by the accused, fixed July 4, 2018 for hearing on the main suit.
Our Correspondent reports that the court was filled to capacity while the five accused persons were brought to court at 8:30am on Thursday with armed EFCC personnel.
Ize-Iyamu was clad in a pair of white shirt and trouser, while Chief Dan Orbih was decked in Navy blue Caftan along with Mr. Lucky Imasuen (former Coordinator, SURE-P, Edo state). was dressed in a native attire.
Photo Caption. L-R: Mr. Efe Erimuoghae, Anthony Aziegbemi, Chief Dan Orbih (Edo PDP Chairman), Paston Osagie Ize-Iyamu (2015 Governorship Candidate, PDP) and Lucky Imasuen (former deputy governor, Edo state), flanked by a litigant at the Federal High court in Benin on Thursday shortly before they were remanded in prison custody.