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Okorocha pleads ‘not guilty’ over alleged N2.9b fraud

A former governor of Imo State, Chief Rochas Okorocha has appeared before a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja where he pleaded not guilty to the N2.9b corruption charges brought against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.

Okorocha was in the 17-count charge, accused of diverting N2.9 Billion from the Imo State Government House accounts and that of Imo State Local Government Joint accounts to private companies.

The alleged fraud was said to have been perpetrated by Okorocha and one Anyim Inyerere with the use of their private companies between 2014 and 2016 when he held sway as the Executive Governor of Imo State.

Shortly after taking the plea, Counsel to the EFCC, Gbolahan Latona informed the court that 15 witnesses had been arranged to testify against the Presidential aspirant under the platform of the All Progressive Congress, APC and that most of the witnesses were outside the jurisdiction of the court.

Counsel to the defendant, Chief Okey Amaechi told the court that he had filed an application for bail of his client and had also served the same on EFCC.

The judge, Justice Inyang Ekwo ruled that he would take all the bail applications tomorrow and directed EFCC to endeavor to file its opposition within time.

Justice Ekwo subsequently ordered Okorocha’s further detention until tomorrow when his bail application would be argued.

Justice Ekwo, in a brief ruling on Okorocha’s bail application on Friday, declined to admit the applicant to bail.

The judge ordered Okorocha to put the Federal Government on notice and defend his detention.

He was kept in EFCC custody since Tuesday last week after he was arrested at his residence by a team of operatives who stormed his residence in Abuja.

Reporting by Ifeoma Nwovu; Editing by Adeniyi Bakare and Tina Oyinsan