Former Rep docked for alleged N16.1 million fraud

Former Member of House of Reps, Chidi Duru

A former member of the House of Representatives, Chidi Duru, was on Tuesday arraigned before a High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja on allegations of diversion of N16.1 million pension funds.

Mr. Duru, a lawyer, was said to have committed the offence while serving as Vice Chairman of First Guarantee Pension Ltd.

He is standing trial on a four-count charge of forgery and money laundering brought against him by the Nigerian government.

He pleaded not guilty to the charges.

After the charges were read, prosecution counsel, Sylvanus Tahir, urged the court to remand the defendant in prison pending the determination of the matter.

He also asked for a trial date to ensure the presentation of witnesses in the matter.

The trial judge, Peter Affen, drew the attention of the prosecution to a preliminary objection filed by the defendant challenging the validity of the charge.

Mr. Tahir said he had not been served, but the defence indicated the proof of service for the said objection on February 2.

He asked the court to grant his client bail.

Mr. Tahir opposed the application, alleging that the defendant, being a lawyer, had the capacity to disrupt the course of justice. He added that the defendant had raided the office of the prosecution, with a motive to taking documents relating to the matter.

Mr. Tahir further said the defendant did not produce a written application, and as such the application should not be considered.

In his ruling, Justice Affen said there was nowhere in the Administration of Criminal Justice, ACJA, Act that makes it mandatory for bail application to be in written form and that the law presumes the defendant innocent of the charge against him until the contrary is proved beyond reasonable doubt.

He granted the defendant bail in self-recognizance a and adjourned hearing of the preliminary objection to February 27.

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