The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission(EFCC), on Monday arraigned a former Governor of Imo state, Owelle Rochas Okorocha, on a 17-count criminal charge.
Okorocha was the governor of Imo state from 2011 to 2019, presently a Senator representing Imo west in the National Assembly.
When the charge was read to the former governor, he pleaded not guilty.
Also docked alongside Okorocha, were Anyim Nyerere Chinenye, Naphtali International Limited, Perfect Finish Multi Projects Limited, Consolid Projects Consulting Limited, Pramif International Limited, and Legend World Concepts Limited.
Part of the documents filed in court showed how the Senator awarded 12 contracts worth N20 billion in violation of the public procurement act.
Court processes also stated how a government committee uncovered the sum of N112.8billion “dubious debts” which various banks owed the state during Okorocha’s tenure.
When the charge was read to him before Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court Abuja, the former governor, said: “I understand the charge against me, but I am not guilty my lord”.
All the other defendants also pleaded their innocence to the charge dated January 24.
After entering their pleas, Okorocha’s lawyer, Okey Amaechi SAN, urged the court to release him on bail pending the determination of the case against him.
Amaechi, further drew attention of the court to the fact that his client was roughly arrested before APC’s screening.
“My lord, without a warrant of arrest from this court, they went into the house of the defendant, broke into it and arrested him in a gestapo manner”, he added.
Reacting, Gbolahan Latona, the EFCC counsel told the court that Okorocha raised some issues in his bail application that would require the commission’s response.
However, the matter has been adjourned to Tuesday, May 31, for hearing of Okorocha’s bail application and those of the defendants, In the mean time, Justice Ekwo ordered that the Defendants should remain in the custody if the EFCC pending the determination of their bail requests.
The court equally fixed November 7, 8, 9, 10 and 11 for trial.
It will be recalled that the EFCC had in April 2021, arrested the former governor and quizzed him for two days over issues bothering on alleged corruption and financial impropriety.
Specifically, Okorocha is being accused by the State government of committing various corrupt practices including diversion and pilfering of public funds belonging to the State Government.
However, upon interrogation, he denied committing any such offence.