Trial Of Council Chairman To Start Afresh


The criminal trial of the former chairman of Orsu Local Government Area of Imo State, South East, Nigeria, Charles Obi Okeke, is to start afresh when the Federal High Court resumes from vacation.

The trial is to commence afresh due to the fact that the presiding judge has been transferred out of Lagos.

In addition, the criminal charges against the former chairman have been amended by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Charles Obi Okeke is facing a 21-count criminal charge of conversion of the council’s money running into millions of naira.

The said monies alleged to have been converted were credited into the accounts of his children in various banks, while some were used to buy shares of companies quoted on the Nigerian Stock Exchange.

It was further alleged that when the accused was under investigation for alleged fraudulently conversion of funds belonging to Orsu local council, he failed to make declaration of shares he bought in the EFCC’s Declaration of Assets Confidential Form A.

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All the offences allegedly committed by Charles Obi Okeke were said to be contrary to and punishable under Section 14(1) of the Money Laundering Act, 2004 and Section 27 of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission Act, 2004.

The accused chairman, who pleaded not guilty, is currently on bail.

What led to the filing of criminal charges against Okeke started sometimes in March 2006, when 12 councilors of the local government sent a petition to the then governor of the state, Dr. Achike Udenwa, accusing the chairman of financial impropriety.

The councilors, in their petition, alleged among other things, that the chairman, since the beginning of his tenure then, had flagrantly refused to abide by the provisions of the law in respect of award of contracts; purchases without council’s knowledge and approval, three vehicles valued at N5.7 million; boarding of unserviceable Orsu local government properties and unfounded claims amounting to N10,717,278 on roads, bridges and culverts within the local government.

The councilors alleged further that Okeke siphoned the council’s funds amounting to N2,822,000 to his wife through women development units, while he was also accused of misappropriating funds meant for the payment of the special assistant to the vice chairman and principal officers of the legislature.

The anti-graft agency has lined up 13 witnesses to prosecute the case.

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