The Court of Appeal Benin City, on Wednesday upheld the appeal of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission as it ruled that a former governor of Edo State, Lucky Igbinedion has a case to answer over allegations of financial improprieties.
In a unanimous decision, the panel of three justices led by Justice Helen M. Ogunwunmiju ruled that the former governor should return the Federal High Court to face trial for money laundering, misappropriation of fund and abuse of office.
The other justices are Justice M. M. Saulawa and Justice A. O. Lokulo-Sodipe.
The EFCC approached the Court of Appeal sequel to the judgment of Justice Adamu Hobon, then of the Federal High Court, Benin City who dismissed the fresh charge of money laundering filed against the former governor on the ground that Igbinedion entered a plea bargain with the EFCC and was convicted, that the fresh charge brought against him amounts to double jeopardy.
The appellate court in upholding the appeal of the EFCC ruled that there was no agreement between Igbinedion and the EFCC that he would not face trial on fresh allegations and revelations and therefore ruled that Igbinedion returns to the High Court to face trial for money laundering and misappropriation of funds.
The EFCC had on February 8, 2011 charged the former governor and six others before a Federal High Court sitting in Benin, on a 66-count charge. Others charged along with the former governor are his brother, Michael Igbinedion, Patrick Eboigbodin, and four companies -Gava Corporation Limited, Romrig Nigeria Limited, PMI Securities Company Limited and PML (Nigeria) Limited.
The charge borders on money laundering, illegal transfer of public fund to private account and abuse of office when Igbinedion was governor of Edo State between 1997 and 2007.
Count one of the charge reads: “That you Lucky Nosakhare Igbinedion and Patrick Eboigbodin between April and May 2007 within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court did convert the sum of N250,000,000 (two hundred and fifty million) which you illegally derived from the Local Government Joint Allocation Account (JAAC) Edo State on the pretence that the said amount was for the provision of security during the 2007 local government election in Edo State (which election never took place) and you converted the said fund with the aim of concealing the illicit origin of the funds and you thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 14(1) (a)of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2004”