The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) says it will be calling 15 witnesses to prove the N4bn theft charges it filed against a former governor of Anambra State, Willie Obiano.

The prosecuting counsel for the EFCC, Slyvanus Tahir (SAN), disclosed this on Wednesday shortly after Obiano was arraigned on nine counts before the Federal High Court in Abuja.

After Obiano pleaded not guilty to the charges before Justice Inyang Ekwo, the prosecutor said the EFCC was ready and eager to prosecute the case, noting that 15 witnesses were on hand to prove the case.

“My Lord,  we are ready for the commencement of the trial in this matter.  We have 15 witnesses with documentary evidence against the defendant that are within the court’s jurisdiction.But we urge you to give a remand order,” Tahir said.

However, Obiano’s lawyer,  Ikpeazu (SAN), urged the judge to release the ex-governor on bail, saying an application had already been filed for his bail to that effect.

But opposing the prayer, the prosecutor said he was only served with the bail application on Wednesday morning and he needed time to reply. He urged the judge to adjourn hearing and send Obiano to prison in the meantime.

However, the judge asked Tahir if Obiano had been on administrative bail before, to which he said yes. The judge then said he would adopt the administrative bail but added the condition that Obiano’s movement would be restricted to the court’s jurisdiction.

Justice Ekwo ordered the EFCC to deposit the defendant’s travel documents with the court registrar.

“The registrar must notify the Nigerian Immigration Service of the development and should verify the address of the land documents of the two directors in the civil service who are his sureties,’’ he added.

He subsequently adjourned the case till March 4, 5,6, and 7 for continuation of trial.

In the charges, the EFCC alleged that Obiano diverted Anambra State’s security votes to the tune of N4,008,573,350 while he was in the sadle as governor between 2014 and 2022.

The EFCC accused him of indirectly transferring, through his Private Principal Secretary,  N1.2bn from the state security vote account to another account belonging to Moment of Peace Ventures, an entity with no business with the state.

The anti-graft agency also accused him of indirectly transferring the sum of N860,716,200 from the state security vote account through his Principal Private Secretary, Wille Nwokoye, to Youdooh Ventures,  an entity with no business with the government for reasons unrelated to security affairs.

Obaino was further accused of transferring the sum of N659,112,900 from the state’s security vote account through Nwokoye to an account belonging to Nazdal Ventures.

The anti-graft agency said the funds formed part of the proceeds of his unlawful act to wit: stealing and corruption.

The former governor was said to have committed the offences in contravention of Sections 1 and 15(2) (b) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition ) Act 2011 as amended and punishable under Section 16(2) (b) of the same Act.

Obiano, however, pleaded not guilty.

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