Nigeria

2023: Senator Okorocha appears before APC presidential screening committee

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, has brought the former governor of Imo state, Senator Rochas Okorocha before the Federal High Court in Abuja for his planned arraignment on a 17-count money laundering charge.

Sen. Rochas Okorocha, one of the presidential aspirants of the All Progressives Congress (APC) on Tuesday night, appeared before the party’s seven-man 2023 Presidential Screening Committee.

Newsmen report that Okorocha, the immediate past Governor of Imo represents Imo West in the Senate.

He had been under the custody of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commision (EFCC) over an alleged N2.9 billion fraud case.

He was, however, granted bail by a Federal High Court in Abuja early Tuesday and was to pay N500 million for his bail with one surety in like sum.

The possibility of Okorocha appearing before the APC Chief John Odigie-Oyegun led presidential screening committee for screening, had been a topic of political discourse following his ordeal in the hands of the EFCC.

Trial Justice Inyang Ekwo granted the former Imo governor bail after dismissing a counter-affidavit the EFCC filed against him.

The EFCC had through its lawyer, Mr Gbolahan Latona, urged the court to allow Okorocha remain in custody, alleging that he posed a flight risk.

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The prosecution alleged that Okorocha not only breached the administrative bail it earlier granted him, but equally made himself inaccessible, a situation that led to his forceful arrest on May 24.

He told the court that the former Imo governor, who was facing a 17-count money laundering charge, had the capacity to interfere with some of its proposed witnesses.

However, counsel to the defendant, Mr Solomon Umoh, SAN, assured the court that his client would be available to face his trial.

The defence lawyer stressed that his client, being a responsible citizen and a presidential aspirant, would not conduct himself in any manner that would undermine the sanctity of the court.

Newsmen report that Okorocha was the last aspirant to be screened by the APC 2023 presidential primary on Tuesday night.

Other aspirants screened by the committee were Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Sen. Godswill Akpabio, former Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Gov. Yahaya Bello of Kogi, and Ahmad Lawan, President of the Senate.

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Also screened were former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Dimeji Bankole and oil magnate, Tein Jack among others.

The committee had on Monday screened 12 presidential aspirants, including Pastor Tunde Bakare and Sen. Bola Tinubu, one of the party’s leaders and a two-term former governor of Lagos State.

Gov. Abubakar Badaru of Jigawa, former Governor of Ogun, Sen. Ibikunle Amosun, former Governor of Zamfara, Sani Yerima and Rotimi Amaechi, former Minister of Transportation were also screened on Monday.

Others are former Minister of State for Education, Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba; Pastor Felix Nicholas, the only female presidential aspirant, Mrs Uju Ken-Ohanenye and Sen. Ajayi Boroffice.

Former President of the Senate, Ken Nnamani and Gov. David Umahi of Ebonyi were also screened on Monday.

The APC Special Convention for its presidential primary had been fixed for June 6 and 8 at the Eagle Square, Abuja.

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