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Court Remands Ex-INEC Chair, Maurice Iwu Over N1.23bn Fraud



Ex-INEC boss, Maurice Iwu

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission on Thursday arraigned a former chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission , Prof Maurice Iwu , for an alleged fraud of N1 . 23 bn.

Iwu was arraigned on four counts before the Federal High Court in Lagos .

In the charges , the EFCC alleged that he committed the offence in the build-up to the 2015 general elections in which President Muhammadu Buhari defeated then incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan .

According to the EFCC , Iwu, between December 2014 and March 27 , 2015 , “ aided the concealment of N1 . 23 bn in the account of Bioresources Institute of Nigeria Limited with number 1018603119 , domiciled in the United Bank for Africa. ”

The EFCC said Iwu “ ought to have reasonably known that the N 1 . 23 bn formed part of proceeds of an unlawful act , to wit : fraud. ”

The prosecuting counsel for the EFCC , Mr Rotimi Oyedepo , told the court that the ex – INEC chairman acted contrary to sections 18 ( a ) and 15 (2 ) (a ) of the Money Laundering (( Prohibition ) Act 2011 and was liable to be punished under Section 15 (3 ) of the same Act .

When the charges were read to him , however , Iwu pleaded not guilty .

The prosecutor prayed the court for a trial date and an order remanding him in prison.

Iwu’ s lawyer , Mr Ahmed Raji ( SAN ) , however , told Justice Chuka Obiozor that he had filed a bail application on behalf of his client , which had been served on the prosecution.

But Oyedepo , who said he only got a copy of the bail application in court on Thursday morning , told the judge that he intended to oppose it and , therefore , needed time to study it.

Following agreement by the lawyers, Justice Obiozor adjourned till Friday to take arguments on the bail application .

In the meantime, Raji urged the judge to order that Iwu be either returned to the custody of the EFCC or released to him to produce him in court on his ( Raji ’ s ) honour and integrity .

But Oyedepo opposed both options , arguing that having been arraigned , the proper place to remand Iwu was the prison custody.

However , Raji insisted that having been kept in the EFCC custody in the last five days , “ heaven will not fall if he was kept there for another one day . ”

Earlier , while saying that Iwu’ s freedom was important to him , Raji told the court that though he was billed to travel to Saudi Arabia on Friday, “ I am stepping down my journey for his liberty . ”

He urged the judge to note Iwu’ s “ age and pedigree . ”

In a short ruling , Justice Obiozor directed that Iwu be returned to EFCC custody and produced before him on Friday for his bail application .

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