The former lawyers’ association leader pleaded not guilty to the charges
A former Vice president of the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, Blessing Ukiri, was on Monday ordered to remain in prison by the Federal High Court in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
Mr. Ukiri, a presidential candidate in the last NBA elections, is being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on charges of fraud, stealing and money laundering of over N35 million.
The accused is alleged to have converted a N35m judgement sum, paid by the Central Bank of Nigeria to his client, Samuel Onowighose, by concealing the origin of the fund and using part of it to acquire 150 thousand units of First Bank of Nigeria Plc shares. The commission said his actions were punishable under section 14 (1) (a) of the Money Laundering Act, 2004.
The accused pleaded not guilty to the three charges read to him. The EFCC Counsel, Olatunji Ademiju, therefore, asked the court to fix a date for trial.
The defence Counsel, A. O. Ojekudos, however moved a motion for bail. He appealed to the court to allow the accused person to continue to enjoy the administrative bail granted him by the EFCC in 2007. But the prosecuting counsel objected to the bail application on the grounds that she was only served in court and needed time to study the application.
Before adjourning proceedings, the judge, Uche Agomoh, maintained that an administrative bail granted in 2007 cannot be used as a basis for seeking bail in a matter filed in 2012.
She ordered that the accused person be remanded in prison, while the case was adjourned to October 18.