Sunday, January 30, 2011

Fresh troubles for Igbinedion over N25b fraud

Fresh troubles await former Edo State governor, Lucky Igbinedion, as the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has prepared over 100 fresh charges against him.
click to expand image
former Governor of Edo State, Chief Lucky Igbinedion

The new charges border on a fresh case of N25b fraud and the former governor may be dragged to court on Monday (tomorrow).

Already, a manhunt has been declared for Igbinedion, who is said to have been on the run since December.

The fresh charges, SUNDAY PUNCH learnt, include the alleged conversion of the state’s Afribank shares worth over $6.2m to Igbinedion’s personal use.

A reliable source within the anti-graft commission told our correspondent that the EFCC had launched a discreet investigation after a fresh petition was written against the former governor.

She said, “Unfortunately, I can’t tell you the name of the person that wrote the petition but we have finished this investigation and it has to go to court on Monday. All the charges involve the conversion of government resources to private use.

“We have been looking for him since December and if he refuses to show up on Monday, we may be forced to contact the INTERPOL like we did in James Ibori’s case.”

Our correspondent further gathered that Igbinedion will also be charged for the alleged conversion of the state’s government shares worth over N120m in Access Bank to himself and the diversion of government funds to purchase the Sheraton hotel in Benin, Edo State, worth over N300m.

The source further confided to our correspondent that Igbinedion would also be in court for the alleged acquisition of mansions in Abuja, Benin, Sierra Leone and London.

The spokesman of the EFCC, Femi Babafemi, who was reluctant to divulge information said, “I am aware that we are investigating a fresh petition against him, but I’m not aware that there are fresh charges.”

When asked whether the fresh charges were related to the former ones, Babafemi said, “It is a completely different case. Don’t forget that we are appealing the former court judgment that gave Igbinedion an option to pay a fine of N3.5m.”

In 2008, Igbinedion stood trial in the case of money laundering and other corrupt charges brought against him by the EFCC at the Federal High Court, Enugu.

Similarly, Kiva Corporation Limited, which was accused of receiving millions of Naira belonging to the state government on behalf of one Patrick Eboigbodin, was also convicted.

Igbinedion’s conviction followed a guilty plea to the amended charges of 191 to the one-count charge of neglect to declare his interest in a GTBank account in which he had N3.5m and 23 count charges against Kiva Corporation in which the latter also pleaded guilty.

But the EFCC had rejected the court verdict on Igbinedion, saying it would appeal against the judgment.

Justice Abdu Kafarati, in his judgment, said following the plea of guilt, the court was convinced to convict Igbinedion and Kiva as charged.

He ordered Igbinedion to pay a fine of N3.5m, which was found in his GTB account and which he was accused of neglecting to declare.

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