An Abuja High Court on Thursday gave the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) leave to arraign Herman Hembe, the former Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Capital Market and Other Financial Institutions.
Justice Abubakar Umar also granted permission to the EFCC to arraign the former Vice Chairman of the committee, Chris Azubogu, over corruption charges.
The EFCC had, through its Counsel, Onjekwu Obe, filed an application for leave to prefer a two-count criminal charge against the duo, under section 185 (d) of the Criminal Procedure Code.
Mr. Obe said the application for seeking leave of the court to prefer a criminal charge was made under Section 185(B) of the Criminal Procedure Code.
“I hereby apply for leave to prefer a criminal charge against the above named accused persons.
“Attached herewith are the following documents: a copy of the charge in respect of which leave is sought, and a verifying affidavit.
“Others are names and addresses of the witnesses, statements of the witnesses and that of the two accused persons and other documentary evidences,” he said.
In his ruling, Mr. Umar granted the application and said that from the proof of evidence presented by the EFCC, Messrs. Hembe and Azubogu are to be arraigned on Thursday, May 17.
“The application to prefer a criminal charge against Hon. Herman Hembe and Hon. Chris Azubogu has merit,” he added.
Mr. Obe told newsmen later that with the consent given by the judge, the duo would now be arraigned on May 17 on a two-count charge, bordering on misappropriation of public funds.
He said that the EFCC investigations revealed that Messrs. Hembe and Azubogu were the two key actors in the N44 million fraud allegation which rocked the House of Representatives Committee on Capital Market and Other Institutions.
The EFCC counsel added that investigations also revealed that the two had confessed that they did not attend the workshop for which they collected money from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
He also said that investigations further revealed that the accused collected travel allowances from SEC to attend a capacity building workshop in the Dominican Republic but never did.
Their confession, the counsel said, came on the day the EFCC launched a probe into the N30 million hotel bill allegedly incurred by SEC’s Director-General, Arunma Oteh.
“EFCC has enough evidence to present to court and is ready to begin its case,” the counsel said.