Nigeria

Court orders arrest of Imo deputy speaker for N785 million ‘fraud’

Hon. Amarachi Iwuanyanwu, the Deputy Speaker of the Imo state House of Assembly, has been declared wanted by the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja on charges of fraud totalling N785 million.

Hon. Amarachi Iwuanyanwu, the Deputy Speaker of the Imo state House of Assembly, has been declared wanted by the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja on charges of fraud totalling N785 million.

Specifically, Justice Inyang Ekwo ordered the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, the Nigeria Police, the Department of State Security Services, the Nigerian Immigration Services, and Interpol to immediately apprehend the lawmaker “anywhere he is sighted in Nigeria or outside Nigeria and produce him before this honourable court or to the EFCC headquarters, Abuja.”

This arrest warrant for Iwuanyawu was issued after the EFCC, represented by prosecutor Mr Olanrewaju Adeola, filed an ex-parte application with the court on November 14.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), in an application with the identifier FHC/ABJ/CS/2124/2024, informed the court that it had information suggesting the lawmaker had fled the country; was now in hiding in the United States of America, USA.

A petition was filed against the respondent and his company, Sun Gold Estate Limited, and the document stated that the respondent had refused to appear in court to respond to the allegations.

The EFCC claims that Hakiz Investment Company Limited, through its attorney Mr A. A Malik, SAN, petitioned the agency in 2012, alleging that the company had signed an MoU with Iwuanyawu’s firm to build 14 four-bedroom terraces and one six-flat block on the petitioner’s land in Mabuchi, Abuja.

As the landowner, the complainant was informed that, upon the estate’s completion by the respondent, he would receive 40% of the building and the respondent, as the developer, would receive 60%.

Although the estate was finished, the anti-graft agency claimed that the respondent “sold all the buildings and criminally diverted the funds without the knowledge of the complainant.”

That N785 million is roughly the market value of 40% of the buildings.

All efforts to contact Iwuanyanwu or his company through invitations have been fruitless, and the investigation into his actions continues.

On one of these occasions, the respondent’s attorney claimed to have received a copy of the invitation and assured the commission that the respondent would be available for questioning.

That the respondent is reportedly in the United States, based on intelligence

That the investigation cannot proceed to its full conclusion unless the suspect is either apprehended or voluntarily comes forward to tell their side of the story.

Ufuoma Ezire, an EFCC official, testified in an affidavit, “That in view of the calculated effort by the suspect to remain evasive, there is a need to place the suspect on the watch list of the Commission, the police and any other law enforcement.”

The application cited sections 35(1)(c) of the 1999 Constitution as amended, sections 3, 37, and 39(1) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015, and sections 6, 7, 13, and 41 of the EFCC (Establishment Act) 2004 as the legal grounds for seeking an arrest warrant for the respondent.

The commission stated in court that it had sent letters informing the Corporate Affairs Commission, banks, and other relevant agencies of its investigation activities.

Meanwhile, Justice Ekwo sided with the applicant and ruled that the ex-parte application should be granted.

The specific court order read: “Issuing a warrant of arrest against Hon. Amarachi Iwuanyanwu.

Additionally, “an order of this honourable court authorising and or directing the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, the Nigeria Police, the Department of State Services, the Nigerian Immigration Services, and the Interpol to arrest on sight, Hon. Amarachi Iwuanyawu, wherever sighted in Nigeria or outside Nigeria, and produce her before this honourable court or to the EFCC headquarters, Abuja.”

Justice Ekwo has set the report date for the case to February 23.

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