The president of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Mr. Paul Usoro, on Friday appeared before Justice Rilwan Aikawa of the Federal High Court, Lagos, to answer to the 10 counts preferred against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
As reported in NewsGazette in December 2018, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had charged Usoro and four others with alleged fraud involving N1.4 billion.
Other co-accused are the state commissioner for finance, Mr. Linus Nkan, the accountant general of the state, Mfon Udomah, the attorney general and commissioner for justice, Mr. Uwemedimo Nwoko as well as Mrs. Margaret Ukpe.
The EFCC, in a charge marked FHC/418c/18, alleged that Usoro, from Akwa Ibom State converted and laundered the money in connivance with the state governor, M. Udom Emmanuel.
However, the governor was not listed as one of the defendants as the EFCC indicated that he is “currently constitutionally immune from criminal prosecution.”
The agency had alleged that the NBA chairman, in league with the others mentioned conspired among themselves to commit the offence sometime in 2015 “within the jurisdiction of this honourable court”.
It claimed that the N1.4bn allegedly converted and laundered by the defendants belonged to the Akwa Ibom State government.
The NBA president however pleaded not guilty to all the charges when he appeared in court on Friday.
NAN reports that the court had issued a bench warrant for the arrest and production in court of Nkan, Udomah, Nwoko and Ukpe who are named in the charge and believed to be at large.