Rochas Okorocha, the detained former Governor of Imo State and Presidential aspirant under ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), is to remain in the custody of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) till Monday, May 30, when he will be arraigned in court over the N2.9 billion money laundering criminal charges brought against him by the Federal Government.
The serving senator is to be arraigned before a Federal High Court in Abuja on the date.
On Tuesday, Okorocha was forcefully arrested in his Abuja residence by operatives of the law enforcement agency after over nine hours of siege on the residence.
DAILY POST reported that Okorocha was arrested on Wednesday by the anti-graft agency as a proactive measure to make him appear in court after he persistently failed to honour court to take his plea in the money laundering charges.
According to reports, Abuja Federal High Court Justice, Inyang Eden Ekwo had on Monday, March 28, threatened to strike out the N2.9 billion money laundering charges against Okorocha should the Federal Government fail again to cause his appearance in court.
The judge had threatened to throw out the charges following the inability of the Federal Government to serve charges on Okorocha as required by law.
At the March 28 proceedings, the Federal Government, for the second time through its counsel, Mr Cosmos Ugwu, had told Justice Ekwo that he has not been able to see Okorocha and serve him with the charges.
The cousel had informed the court that Okorocha had been evading service, but that he would make efforts and would continue to make efforts until he succeeds in serving the former Imo State Governor with the court papers.
He had subsequently applied for another adjournment to enable EFCC do everything within its power to serve the court papers, in line with provisions of the law.
The Judge showed his dissatisfaction over the excuse being tendered as the reason why Okorocha was unable to be reached and reminded him that same story was played out on February 22 when the former Imo state governor ought to have taken his plea.
Justice Ekwo had said categorically that he was not going to continue to take flimsy excuses from the EFCC and would not help it to do its job.
The judge grudgingly granted the request for the second adjournment and warned the EFCC to demonstrate seriousness or else, the case would be struck out.
DAILY POST also gathered from the EFCC’S sources at the Federal High Court premises that the anti-graft agency was forced to apply force against Okorocha as he allegedly refused bluntly to honour invitation extended to him thrice to appear at the Commission’s office in Abuja just for purpose of serving him the charge.
“EFCC is a civilized organization and would not take laws into its hand but suspects, especially highly placed ones should always try as much as possible to respect the law and due process so that the law can protect them.
“Arraignment in court is not a death sentence, so no one should take court for a ride or for granted. In Nigeria today, suspects can only run but cannot hide as in the case of Senator Okorocha,” he said.
The source, who spoke with DAILY POST on anonymous, said that nobody would be allowed to bail the Senator until after his appearance and arraignment in court on Monday.
Efforts to get EFCC’S lawyer, Mr Cosmos Ugwu comment on the matter were unsuccessful.
The Federal Government’s charges against Okorocha dated January 24, 2022, was signed by one A.O Ikota on behalf of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
Okorocha, the serving Senator representing Imo West National Assembly alongside six others is to face trial in the N2.9 billion money laundering criminal charges.
The Senator is being put on trial by the Federal Government on 17-count charges involving criminal diversion of public funds and properties.
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