Hot verbal exchange between the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission’s prosecuting counsel, Mr. Festus Keyamo, and lawyers defending a former Governor of Imo State, Ikedi Ohakim, who is being prosecuted for money laundering charges, stalled proceedings before a Federal High Court in Abuja on Tuesday.
The proceedings scheduled for cross-examination of the second prosecution witness, Mr. Abu Sule, could not go on Tuesday, following an apprehension expressed by Keyamo that the witness’ life was being threatened allegedly by moves, recently taken by Ohakim’s second, Emeka, trying to find out the residential address of the witness.
The defence team, led by Chief Awa Kalu (SAN), and who appeared with Chief Chris Uche (SAN), did not take the allegation lightly.
The situation degenerated into a brawl as Kalu, who reacted in an angry tone, accused Keyamo of plotting to destabilise the defence with an allegation which he said ought to have been resolved without being mentioned in open court.
The judge, Justice Adeniyi Ademola, who apparently was taken aback by the outburst of the warring parties, was forced to adjourn till Wednesday for “tempers to calm down”.
Ohakim, who was Imo State governor between 2007 and 2011, is facing three counts of money laundering arising from his alleged purchase of the House 60, Kwame Nkrumah Street, Plot No. 1098, Cadastral Zone A04, Asokoro District, Abuja, with a $2.29m cash payment, which was said to be then an equivalent of N270m in November 2008.
He was also accused of failing to declare the property as part of his assets when asked by the EFCC to do so.
The prosecution said the offences bordering on cash payment of N270m violated section 15(1)(d) and section 14(1)(b) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2004.
Sule, who had testified on December 7, 2015 as the second prosecution witness in the case, was the Managing Director of Tweenex Consociates H.D. Ltd., the company which Ohakim allegedly used to conceal his ownership of the property.
The witness had told the court that the former governor instructed him to use his (Sule’s) company, Tweenex Consociates H.D. Ltd, to buy the property