The Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission on Thursday re-arraigned a former director at the Federal Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs and governorship aspirant in Nasarawa State on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party, Yusuf Agabi, before a Federal Capital Territory High Court in Maitama, Abuja, on charges of alleged N605m fraud.
Agabi was re-arraigned along with four others on 46 counts of fraud before Justice Adegboyega Adeniyi.
The accused persons, who were at various times Directors of Finance and Deputy Directors of Finance in the Niger Delta Ministry, allegedly siphoned the total sum of N605m from the Constituency Project account of the ministry under fraudulent claims.
Apart from Agabi, the other co-accused are, Akpore Okeroghene (Deputy Director of Finance), Abibu Ayinla (Director of Finance), Idowu Adewale (Deputy Director Accounts) and Ngozi James (Deputy Director Accounts).
The case was re-assigned to Justice Adenyi following a petition by some of the accused persons to the Chief Judge of the FCT High Court, Justice Ishaq Bello, accusing the former trial judge, Justice Baba Yusuf of bias in his handling of the case.
The prosecution had already called one of its witnesses before the case was transferred to Justice Adeniyi.
The accused persons all pleaded not guilty to the 46 counts when they were re-arraigned on Thursday.
The prosecution alleged that the accused persons fraudulently withdrew the total sum of N605m from the Constituency Project account of the ministry without authorisation.
It also alleged that the accused persons perpetrated the fraud using fictitious claims through payment vouchers containing false information.
Some of them were said to have used the proceeds to build private houses.
After the arraignment on Thursday, Justice Adeniyi ordered that the accused persons should conitinue to enjoy the bail earlier granted by Justice Yusuf.
The matter was subsequently adjourned till March 1, 2 and 3, 2016 for trial to start afresh.