The accused persons

The accused persons

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC on Thursday, arraigned a former Coordinator of Afikpo South Local Government Development Centre of Ebonyi State, Ugwuocha Okoroafor; his treasurer, Christian Chukwu Owo, and the administrative officer, Mrs. Anne Eke Agwu before Justice E.A. Ngene of the State High Court, Afikpo, on a 15-count charge of conspiracy and stealing of public funds totaling N25,000,000.

Okoroafor and his alleged accomplices were said to have at various times between 2013 and 2015 raised vouchers for payments supposedly for contract awards, salaries and independence day celebrations in the names of staff of the council, who denied receiving such funds.

Investigation into the matter which was reported by the Center for Prevention of Corruption and Human Right Initiatives and some staff of the council, revealed that the accused persons padded their salaries and that of other staff in connivance with a staff of the bank where the local Government’s account is domiciled.

The sum of N16,000,000 and N8,000,000 were at different times traced to the accused persons’ accounts which their income profile could not justify.

When the charges were read to them, all the accused persons pleaded not guilty to the charges, prompting their counsel, M.O. Njoko and B.O Igwenyi (SAN) to ask the court to release them on bail.

The court granted bail to each of the accused persons in the sum of N500,000 and one surety each in like sum. The surety the judge ruled, must be a resident of the state, who has a landed property within the jurisdiction and must present evidence of three years tax payment.

The matter has been adjourned to September 21, 2016 for commencement of trial.