Justice Mohammed Umar of the Federal High Court, Benin on Friday threatened to revoke the bail granted to a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu; the state Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, Mr Dan Orbih; and three others if they delayed the commencement of their trial for alleged N700m money laundering.
Ize-Iyamu and others were arraigned on an eight-count charge of conspiracy with themselves to commit money laundering to the tune of N700m, an offence contrary to Section 18(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011 as amended, which is punishable under Section 15(3) of the same Act.
The EFCC alleged that the defendants received the sum of N700m prior to the 2015 General Elections from a former Minister of Petroleum, Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke.
Other defendants are the former deputy governor, Mr Lucky Imasuen; a former member representing Esan South-East and Esan North-East Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives, Tony Azigbemi, and one Efe Anthony.
Justice Umar issued the threat after listening to arguments of defendants seeking six months adjournment because of the ill health of Mr Efe Anthony.
The lead counsel for the first defendant, Mr Kingsley Obamojie; the counsel for the second defendant, Prof. Osas Izebhiuwa; and the one for the third and fourth defendants, Mr Paschal Ogbome, pleaded with the court to grant the application as Mr Anthony needed to be a bit healthy to appear in court for his defence.
But the prosecution counsel, Mr L P Aso, argued that the language of the application attempted to frustrate the prosecution through unwarranted delay.
Justice Umar, who threatened to revoke the bail, adjourned the sitting till March 2 for hearing and maintained that he would not tolerate any form of delay in the prosecution.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission had said the accused made cash payment of N60,650,000 to one Henry Tenebe of Estako West Local Government Area and N61,647,000 to one Momoh Andrew Ojo of Akoko-Edo without going through a financial institution.
In counts five, six and seven, they were alleged to have made cash payments of N83,473,000, N125,993,000 and N105,000,000 to Deacon Ezekiel Egharevba, Thomas Aroko and Scott Osagiede without going through a financial institution.