Tuesday, 13 February 2018

BREAKING: MRS. SARAH OCHEKPE AND TWO OTHERS, PLEADED “NOT GUILTY” TO NEW EFCC’S AMENDED CHARGE ON ALLEGED MONEY LAUNDERING


By: Valentine Adese,
 
The former Minister of Water Resources, Mrs. Sarah Ochekpe has pleaded “Not Guilty”, to an amended three (3) Count Charge on Money Laundering, filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) before a Federal High Court sitting in Jos, the Jos Division. 
 
MRS. SARAH OCHEKPE
Mrs. Sarah was arraigned freshly alongside Eveng. Leo Sunday Jitong and Hon. Raymond Dabo (former Plateau State Deputy Chairman of the PDP).
 
The amended charge, dated 9th February, 2018, signed by one Uzor O. Joseph and Ahmad Muntaka (Esq) reads:


COUNT1
“That you, Sarah Reng Ochekpe Evang. Leo Sunday jitong and Raymond Dabo sometimes in March, 2015 at Jos, Plateau state of Nigeria within the Jurisdiction of this Hournorable Court, without going through the Financial Institution did conspire amongst yourselves to accept cash payment of the sum of Four Hundred and Fifty Million Naira (N450,000,000.00) from one Annet Olije Gyen, Head of Operations Jos Branch of Fidelity Bank Plc which sum exceeded the amount authorized by Law and thereby committed an offence contrary to the provision of section 18(a) section 16(1,d) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2012 (as amended) and punishable under section 16(2,b) of the same Act.”  


COUNT2
“That you, Sarah Reng Ochekpe Evang. Leo Sunday jitong and Raymond Dabo sometimes in March, 2015 at Jos, Plateau state of Nigeria within the Jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, without going through the Financial Institution did conspire amongst yourselves to accept cash payment of the sum of Four Hundred and Fifty Million Naira (N450,000,000.00) from one Annet Olije Gyen, Head of Operations Jos Branch of Fidelity Bank Plc which sum exceeded the amount authorized by Law and thereby committed an offence contrary to be paid to an individual(s) of section 1 (a) section 16(1) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2012 (as amended) and punishable under section 16(2,b) of the same Act.”  

COUNT3
“That you, Sarah Reng Ochekpe Evang. Leo Sunday jitong and Raymond Dabo sometimes in March, 2015 at Jos, Plateau state of Nigeria within the Jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, did retain the proceeds of crime to the tune of Four Houndred and Fifty Million naira (N450,000,000.00) from one from one Annet Olije Gyen, Head of Operations Jos Branch of Fidelity Bank Plc after accepting same from the Banking Hall of Fidelity Bank Plc Jos Branch and thereby committed and offence contrary to the provision of section1(a), section 16(1) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2012 (as amended) and punishable under section 16(2,b) of the same Act.” 

After reading the charge to the accused persons, they pleaded “Not Guilty”, to all the Counts.

Mrs. Sarah Ochekpe, Hon. Raymond Dabo and Evang. Leo Sunday, have been granted bail by the presiding Judge, Hon. Justice Musa Kurya, but, with a condition that they should deposit their International Passports with the Court.



The surprise however today is the huge reduction of sympathizers to the matter from the PDP among others when the matter first came up on the 22nd of January, 2018.

 You would recall that the Court had granted bail to the accused persons on personal recognition, when they were arraigned for the first time before the Court last month. A decision, the EFFC Lawyer never objected to.

Information has it that the mention of the alleged Laundered amount seems to be tearing members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chapter in Plateau state apart, as most of the members were just hearing of such huge sum allegedly received by some members for purpose(s) that they are waiting to hear during the trial.

To some who have refused to be mentioned in the party, they expressed their surprise and frustration when that said, “it was strange that money came in when they were looking for money for campaign during that period. And, as we speak to you, we have not been briefed on how this money came if it were true and we are yet to be told of their usage or how and when it was applied.

“N450million is not small money you know! If that money was in the office at that time and known to members, we are of the firm belief that late Sen. GNS Pwajok, would not have look for money from other source(s) to finance his campaign.

“One of the worries of that campaign period was lack of fund, as nobody was willing to assist Late GNS hence, to many of us, we will just keep following the trial until somebody is willing to inform us who executed that wickedness on late GNS and former President Jonathan.

You would recall that the EFFC in its charge sheet had accused Mrs. Sarah Ochekpe and others of collecting N450million through Fidelity Bank, aallegedly sent by a former Nigerian Petroleum Minister, Mrs. Alison Madueke. They are also accused of withdrawing the said amount same day, as against the law, knowing that such amount was not allowed to be withdrawn by an individual.

You would recall also that, a group under the aegis of Concerned Patriots in Plateau state had commended the EFCC for arraigning the former Minister for Water Resource, Mrs. Sarah Ochekpe, for alleged Money Laundering.

The group in a statement made available to REALITY, dated 1/02/18, and signed by its Chairman, Hon. Dan Bulus, had also called on the EFCC to have their touch light on Plateau state in order to question more people, who have played several role(s) in squandering or misappropriating the funds of the state in the past, especially, within the immediate past administration.
 

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