Court Dismisses EFCC’s Fraud Suit Against Okorocha

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Court Dismisses EFCC’s Fraud Suit Against Okorocha

A federal capital territory high court in Abuja has dismissed a criminal suit filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) against Rochas Okorocha, former Imo state governor.

Yusuf Halilu, presiding judge, dismissed the suit for being “an abuse of court process”.

The EFCC alleged that the former governor laundered N2.9 billion during his tenure as governor from 2011 to 2019.

Okorocha had challenged the competency of the charge, arguing that there are subsisting orders restraining the commission from trying him with the same allegations.

He said a federal high court in Port Harcourt, on December 6, 2021, granted an application stopping his prosecution, after faulting the process of investigation adopted by the agency.

Okorocha said since that order is still subsisting, the present charge by the EFCC is an abuse of prosecutorial powers and judicial process.

He also cited a ruling of an Abuja federal high court delivered in February 2023, which dismissed a similar suit filed by the commission.

However, the EFCC had argued otherwise, stating that the fresh charge is different from the previous suits.

‘THE COURT IS BOUND HANDS AND LEGS’

Delivering the ruling on Friday, the FCT high court held that the charge before it is a product of the same investigation which was invalidated by the federal high court in Port Harcourt.

Halilu said the judgement of the Port Harcourt court is still valid since it has not been vacated by a court of appeal.

“An order made by a court is still valid until it is vacated by a competent court,” he said.

He said the EFCC ought to have “challenged the pronouncement of the federal high court, Port Harcourt” before the court of appeal and followed through till it is concluded.

“Any step taken in filing any charge against the defendant which stems from the same investigation, cannot stand,” the judge said.

“This court is bound hands and legs by the decision of the federal high court.”