Justice Chuka Obiozor of the Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos, on Monday, December 4, 2017, issued a bench warrant against a former governor of Enugu State, Chimaroke Nnamani.
The judge ordered Nnamani’s arrest for failing to appear in court for his re-arraignment over alleged money laundering to the tune of N4.5bn in a matter brought before the court by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
Nnamami, alongside one of his aides, Sunday Anyaogu, and six firms Rainbownet (Nig) Ltd, Hillgate (Nig) Ltd, Cosmo FM, Capital City Automobile (Nig) Ltd, Renaissance University Teaching Hospital and Mea Mater Elizabeth High School had been arraigned in 2007. In 2015, all the companies pleaded guilty to the charges but the trial of Messrs Nnamani and Anyaogu continued to stall due to the former’s frequent travels abroad to treat a heart ailment.
Chimaroke Nnamani, who was Governor of Enugu State between 1999 and 2007, is facing a 10 count charge of money laundering. The former governor allegedly conspired with the the other defendants to launder statutory allocations of some local government areas of the state.
Shamsudeen Abubakar, counsel to Nnamani told the court that his client who is severely sick and bedridden, had just undergone a heart surgery in the United States of America and recuperating in hospital.
Asked by the judge why Nnamani stopped attending trial since 2015 when his surgery was only last month, the defence lawyer said it was the period the companies pleaded guilty to the charges.
Kelvin Uzozie, counsel to the EFCC, informed the court that the photographic evidence by the defence lawyer to prove Nnamani’s recuperation in a United States hospital had been in circulation since 2014.
At the sitting Monday, the Judge held that counsel to Nnamani failed to give a ‘tenable reason’ why his client was absent in court. Justice Obiozor, the fourth judge to handle the matter, made it clear to the defence lawyer that he would not tolerate any attempt to further delay the trial.
Mr. Nnamani, who was governor between 1999 and 2007, is facing a 10-count charge of laundering N5.3 billion instituted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
The judge also ordered the arrest of Mr. Nnamani’s aide and co-accused, Sunday Anyaogu.