The president of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Mr. Paul Usoro has said that he would be ready for arraignment in court over N1.4 billion money laundering charge pressed against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The sum was alleged to have been received from the Akwa Ibom State government.
EFCC had alleged that Usoro and the governor of Akwa Ibom State, Mr. Udom Emmanuel, laundered funds from the coffers of the state under the pretence that it was payment for “legal services.”
Usoro, who emerged the 29th President of NBA in August, said while briefing the media yesterday on key decisions the National Executive Committee (NEC) of NBA took at the end of its meeting in Abuja said he resolved to appear before Justice Muslim Hassan today (Monday) to enter his plea to the charges he described as “baseless” and “politically motivated.
He acknowledged that he was earlier grilled by EFCC with respect to fees the Akwa Ibom State government paid to his law firm between 2015 and 2016, as well as fees that the governor paid “for the benefit of counsel that worked on his election petition appeal that was decided by the Supreme Court early in 2016.”
Specifically, he said he was investigated based on a bank’s N300 million inflow into his law firm’s account on March 14, 2016 and subsequent outflows from the account to various senior counsel between March 22 and 23, 2016.
The NBA president accused the EFCC of engaging in media trial media trial saying there was need for a legislation to sanction prosecuting agencies that engage in such practice.
“That was how they also alleged that I bribed a judge, but when the facts came out, it was proved that I did not bribe any judge.
“There should be an end to media trial of persons. Even though I have not been served with the charge, I have decided to be in court today. But the facts as I know it, I am completely innocent of the allegations.”