Ex-Imo Commissioner Jailed 3 Years for Diversion of ₦180m
By Adetokunbo Fakeye
Nigeria - A former commissioner of Transport in the Rochas Okorocha administration of Imo State, Prince Laseberry Okafor Anyanwu, a.k.a Laseberry Okafor was on Tuesday March 14, 2022 convicted and sentenced to 3 years imprisonment on a four count charge that bordered on abuse of office and fraudulent diversion of ₦180,000,000 (One Hundred and Eighty Million Naira only) by Justice K. A Lewanya of the Imo State High Court, Owerri, Imo State.
The former Commissioner, according to the EFCC spokesperson, Wilson Uwujaren diverted the said sum from the account of the Imo Transport Company to Oma Oil & Industries Ltd, a company in which he has interest through phony contracts.
One of the charges against him reads, "Prince Laseberry Okafor Anyanwu aka Laseberry Okafor between the 6th day of November, 2017 and 10th day of November, 2017, while being employed as the Chairman, Committee on Review of Imo Transport Company, used his office to confer a corrupt advantage upon himself when he caused the transfer of the N100,000,000.00(One Hundred Million Naira only) property of Imo Transport Company’s account with Imo State Microfinance bank’s Polaris bank account to the Polaris bank account No:40906668828 belonging to Oma Oil & Industries Ltd, a company in which he is a Shareholder/Director/Chairman/Chief Executive and signatory to the bank accounts of the said company".
Another count reads, "Prince Laseberry Okafor Anyanwu aka Laseberry Okafor also on the 31st day of January, 2018, used his office to confer a corrupt advantage upon himself when he caused another transfer of the sum of #80,000.000.00 (Eighty Million Naira only) property of Imo State Government from the Imo State Ministry of Transport’s account with Polaris Bank to the Polaris Bank Account No:40906668828 belonging to Oma Oil & Industries Ltd, a company in which he is a Shareholder/Director/Chairman/Chief Executive and signatory to the bank accounts of the said company".
Uwujaren said, the defendant had pleaded not guilty to the four counts, setting the stage for the matter to proceed to trial. In the course of trial, the prosecution called three witnesses and tendered several documents which were admitted in evidence as Exhibits.
At the close of the prosecution’s case, the defendant opened his defence, and testified for himself.
Delivering judgment on March 14, 2023, Justice Lewanya held that the prosecution had proved the case against the defendant, convicted and sentenced him to one year imprisonment each on counts 2, 3, and 4 without option of fine. The sentence shall run concurrently.
The Judge, however, discharged and acquitted him on count one.
The Judge further ordered that the One Hundred and Eighty Million Naira (₦180,000,000.00) in the accounts of the defendant, already the subject of an interim forfeiture order, be forfeited to the Imo State Government.
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