Ex-accountant general begs for more time to refund looted funds

A former acting Accountant-General of the Federation, Anamekwe Nwabuoku, on Wednesday, pleaded with Justice James Omotoso of the Federal High Court in Abuja to give him more time to conclude the refund of public funds allegedly looted by him and his co-defendant, Felix Nweke.

Nwabuoku and Nweke are facing 11 counts of money laundering, amounting to N1.6 billion. They are being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

The defendants are accused of committing the offenses while Nwabuoku served as the Director of Finance and Accounts in the Ministry of Defence between 2019 and 2021.

In the charge marked FHC/ABJ/CR/240/24, dated May 20 and filed on May 27 by EFCC counsel Ekele Iheanacho, Nwabuoku is the first defendant and Nweke the second.

Nwabuoku was appointed acting Accountant-General of the Federation on May 20, 2022, under former President Muhammadu Buhari after Ahmed Idris was suspended over alleged N80 billion fraud. Nwabuoku was removed from office in July 2022, only weeks after his appointment.

When the case was called on Wednesday, the defendants requested the court to delay their arraignment to allow them to finalize the refund process.

Nweke’s lawyer, Emeka Onyeaka, informed the court of a new development in the case, stating that his client had taken significant steps towards settling the matter and had made substantial refunds of the money traced to him by the EFCC.

“The second defendant has taken steps, as there is a communication to the commission regarding the alleged offenses on making a refund. The commission is in receipt of the money and promised to communicate with us,” Onyeaka said.

Onyeaka further explained that the defense had communicated with the commission upon receiving the charge and had been asked to wait for their administrative procedure.

He argued that since a substantial amount had been refunded, arraigning his client could affect the trial. He thus requested an adjournment to finalize the administrative procedures.

Maduakolam Igwe, representing Nwabuoku, supported Onyeaka’s request, stating that his client had also made significant refunds and written to the commission about this.

Responding, EFCC counsel Ogechi Ujam acknowledged receiving a proposal letter from the defendants but stated, “No negotiation has been made, no settlement has been done, and no agreement has been reached by parties. In the circumstances, we urge this honorable court to allow us to arraign the defendants.”

After hearing from both parties, Justice Omotosho adjourned the case until October 14 for arraignment.

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