Alleged N1.2bn fraud: Ex-INEC chair, Maurice Iwu remanded in prison custody

A Federal High Court, Lagos, today, ordered that the the former Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Professor Maurice Mmaduakolam Iwu, be remanded in prison custody, pending the fulfilment of bail terms granted him by the court.

Justice Chuka Austine Obiozor, made the remand order after taken arguments on Professor Iwu’s bail application, filed by his lawyer, Mr. Ahmed Raji (SAN) and lawyer to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

The EFCC had arraigned the former INEC chairman before the court on Thursday, on a four count-charge of money laundering to the tune of N1.2 billion.

The anti-graft commission in a charge marked FHC/L/270c/19, alleged that the former INEC chairman had between December 2015 and March 27, 2015, procured a firm, Bioresources Institute of Nigeria (BION) Limited, whose account with number 1018603119 domiciled in Untied Bank of Africa (UBA) Plc aided in laundering the sum of N1.203 billion.

The former INEC chairman and a lawyer, Victor Nwachukwuani, were alleged to have retained the sum of N407 million of the said laundered money through the firm’s account with UBA.

The offences according to the prosecution, are 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”.

Professor Iwu had denied the allegations, and the matter was adjourned till today for hearing of his bail application.

At the resumed hearing of the motion bail, Professor Iwu’s lawyer, Raji (SAN) urged the court to grant bail to his client either on self-recognisance or in the most liberal terms.

Raji (SAN) pleaded with the court to consider his client’s age and health statues, as well as the service he rendered serving the country, as a former INEC chairman.

But the EFCC’s counsel, Mr. Rotimi Oyedepo, in urging the court to refused the application said the defendant is ‘flight risk’ and there is possibility of interfering with the commission’s witnesses most of whom he said are INEC officials.

Oyedepo also told the court that the defendant has not furnish the court with the state of his health. While adding that in the unlikely event that the court will grant the application, it should be with the conditions that will ensure the defendant’s in court till the determination of the charge against him.

Ruling on the application, Justice Obiozor after citing plethoras of authority held that granting bail is at the discretion of the court which must be done judicial and judiciously.

Consequently, the judge admitted bail to the defendant in the sum of N1 billion with two sureties in the same sum

Justice Obiozor, also stated that one of the sureties to be a landed property in Lagos, while the other must be a Professor of a Civil Servant on Grade Level16 and above.

The judge further ordered that both sureties must furnish the court with their statements of account with standing balance of N1 billion with their current two passport photographs. Adding that each of the sureties must  must show evidence of three years tax and means of livelihood.

Justice Obiozor also ordered Professor iwu to deposit his international passport with the court’s Deputy Chief Registrar (DCR) and to cease from interfering with INEC staff.

He ordered that the former INEC chairman be remanded in prison custody pending the fulfilment of bail terms

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