Jos, Feb. 13, 2018 (TNE) The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), on Tuesday amended the charges against a former Minister of Water Resources, Mrs Sarah Ochekpe, and two others, docked before a Jos Federal High Court, over alleged N450million fraud.
Ochekpe, and former acting Chairman of the PDP in Plateau, Raymond Dabo, as well as Leo Sunday-Jatau, former Plateau Campaign Coordinator of President Goodluck Johnathan, were arraigned on Jan. 22, 2018, on a two-count charge bordering on money laundering.
The anti-graft agency had earlier alleged that sometime in 2015, N450 million was transferred from the account of former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Alison Diezeni-Madueke, to the account of one of the defendants.
The defendant allegedly withdrew the money and laundered it.
When the case came up for hearing on Tuesday before Justice Musa Kurya, the prosecution counsel, Mr Ahmed Munchaka, told the court that he has filed an amended charge.
The amended charges alleged that the accused collected N450 million from one Annet Olije-Gyen, Operation Manager of Fidelity Bank, which exceeded the amount authorised by law.
The offences were contrary to Section 18 (a)(d), 1 (a), 16(1)(d) and punishable under Section 16 (2) of Money laundering (Prohibition) Act 2012 (\as Amended).
When the charges were read, the defendants pleaded not guilty.
The prosecution counsel prayed the court to proceed with trial of the defendants.
The defence counsel, Mr S. Oyewole, opposed the application, as he was only served the amended charges on Monday, while the defendants were given the amended charges on Tuesday morning.
“My Lord, the accused persons need to study the amended charges first because any question we may want to ask must arise from what they will tell us, therefore we need more time.
“We may wish to ask for an adjournment to enable our clients to study the charges,’’ Oyewole pleaded.
After listening to the arguments of counsel, the judge adjourned the case until Wednesday, Feb. 14, for definite hearing.