Ex-INEC chairman Maurice Iwu remanded in EFCC custody over N1.2bn fraud
A Lagos Division of the Federal High Court Thursday remanded a former chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in the custody of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) pending the hearing of his application for bail.
The EFCC had arraigned Mr Iwu before Chuka Obiozor, the judge, on a four-count charge of aiding unlawful concealment of N1.2 billion suspected to be proceeds of fraud.
According to the commission, the offence was committed between December 2014 and March 2015.
While moving motion for bail, Ahmed Raji counsel to Mr Iwu, informed the court that his client had been on administrative bail prior to arraignment and had not missed an appointment.
Mr Raji said he had filed a motion challenging the territorial jurisdiction of the court but would like to wait till after bail was determined.
In response, the judge said the bail application can not proceed until the jurisdiction of the court is determined because deciding whether or not to grant bail presupposes that the court has jurisdiction over the matter.
Mr Raji then requested that the motion challenging the court’s jurisdiction be struck out so the bail hearing could proceed.
Rotimi Oyedepo, the EFCC counsel, however, said he had just been served the motion for bail this morning and needs time to assess the particulars.
“I was informed the application was forwarded to the legal department but I informed them I had been transferred from the department,” he said.
”I just received another copy this morning and I would need time to review it.”
Mr Ahmed then prayed the court for the defendant to be released to him instead of being remanded in prison pending the hearing of the bail application.
”The whole essence of remanding a defendant on trial is to ensure prompt attendance until the determination of his case,” he said.
”If the court releases him to me, I pledge on my honour to produce him in court.”
Mr Oyedepo opposed the bail application saying the magnitude of the offence could make the defendant to abscond.
In his ruling, Mr Obiozor, a professor of Law, refused the plea of the defence counsel to release the defendant to him pending the hearing of the bail application.
The judge said such a decision would amount to preempting the outcome of the bail hearing.
“I direct the defendant be remanded in EFCC custody till tomorrow when bail will be taken,” he added.
The EFCC said Mr Iwu had been under investigation since 2015, for money laundering.