Former Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Prof Maurice Iwu, has asked that the N1.2bn fraud charge preferred against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission be transferred to the Abuja division of Federal High Court.
Counsel to Iwu, Ahmed Raji (SAN), told Justice Nicolas Oweibo on Thursday that the transfer was necessary so as not to subject the defendant to hardship.
He stated the Iwu resides in Abuja but always travelled down to Lagos whenever the case was to be heard.
Raji said, “My Lord, this defendant is over 70 years of age, and he always travels down to Lagos whenever the case comes up and booked hotel. It will amount to great agony for him to continue with this trial in Lagos.”
Iwu also said that the transaction that led to the case was done in Abuja, therefore the matter is supposed to be heard there.
Counsel to the EFCC, Rotimi Oyedepo, urged the court to refuse the application because all witnesses listed in the proof of evidence reside in Lagos and Ibadan.
Oyedepo contended that all bank officials listed in the proof of evidence to testify and the documents to tender were in Lagos.
Oyedepo said that the offence for which the defendant was charged touched on the economic well-being of Nigeria, thereby such can be tried anywhere in the country.
Justice Oweibo after listening to both parties adjourned the case until March 6 for ruling.
Iwu is facing a three-count charge of fraud and money laundering brought against him by the EFCC.
He was first arraigned on August 8, 2019 before Justice Chuka Obiozor of the Federal High Court, Lagos, but was granted N1bn bail after pleading not guilty to the charges.
Following the transfer of the case to Oweibo, Iwu was re-arraigned by the anti-graft commission on October 24, 2019.
EFCC said that Iwu committed the alleged offences from December 2014 to March 27, 2015.