By Osahon Osahon
The Federal High Court sitting in Benin, Edo State, has ruled that it has jurisdiction to hear the money laundering charge instituted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) against Pastor Osagie Ize -Iyamu and four others.
The four others standing trial in the N700mn money laundering case are Lucky Imasuen, (a former deputy governor of the state), Chief Dan Orbih, then PDP chairman in the state; Tony Aziegbemi and Efe Erimuoghae.
Presiding judge, Justice M. G. Umar, Federal High Court, Benin City, delivered the ruling on Tuesday in the money laundering charge brought against Pastor Ize -Iyamu, who was PDP governorship candidate in the 2016 governorship election in the state.
The defendants were alleged to have sometime in March 2015, in Benin City, directly taken possession of the sum of N700, 000,000, without any contract award which sum was allegedly part of proceeds of an unlawful act.
One of the charges reads: “That you, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, Lucky Imasuen, Tony Aziegbemi, Chief Dan Orbih, Efe Erimuoghae Anthony and Chief Anthony Anenih (now at large) sometime in March 2015 in Benin within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court did directly take possession and control of the sum of N700,000,000.00 (seven hundred million naira) only without any contract award which sum you reasonably ought to have known form part of proceeds of an unlawful act, to wit; fraud and corruption; and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 15(2)(d) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011 (as amended by the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Amendment Act 2012 and punishable under Section 15(3)of the same Act”.
They had pleaded not guilty to the charges setting the stage for their trial.
Counsel to the first defendant, Charles Edosomwan (SAN), had challenged the jurisdiction of the Court to hear the matter on the grounds that the charges filed against the defendants were based on election matter, arguing that the appropriate court to try electoral matter was the Magistrate or High Court of the state.
In his ruling, Justice M. G. Umar, who dismissed their application, said the matter before the court was money laundering which the federal high court has exclusive jurisdiction over.
He berated the defendants for filing the motion which he said was intended to waste the time of the court.
Justice Umar adjourned the case till May 18, 2021 for further hearing.