A few hours after declaring his bid to contest the 2023 presidency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) yesterday filed criminal charges of money laundering to the of N2.9billion against former Imo State governor, Rochas Okorocha.
The anti-graft agency preferred a 17-count charge against the Senator representing Imo west before a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja.
The commission accused Okorocha of allegedly conspiring with others, including a member of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and five companies, to steal N2.9 billion public funds.
Other defendants in the suit filed by the EFCC are Anyim Nyerere Chinenye, Naphtali International Limited, Perfect Finish Multi Projects Limited, Consolid Projects Consulting Limited, Pramif International Limited, and Legend World Concepts Limited.
In April 2021, the EFCC had arrested the former governor who was grilled for two days over issues bordering on alleged corruption.
Okorocha who governed Imo from 2011 to 2019 had been accused by the state government of various corrupt practices, including diversion of public funds, though he has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.
Before the charges were filed against him and others in court, Okorocha earlier yesterday declared his interest to contest the 2023 presidential election with a promise to provide free education for Nigerians.
Okorocha who had last week written to the Senate concerning his intention to run for the office of the president publicly declared his ambition during a world press conference at the International Conference Centre yesterday.
He said the contest has nothing to do with zoning in his political party, the All Progressives Congress (APC).
He said if he emerges president, he would provide free education from basic to secondary school.
“There will be free access to education, from basic to secondary school level,” Okorocha stated, even as he appealed to his party leaders to allow a level-playing field for candidates no matter their region.
“I hear people talking about zoning, I’m not a candidate of zoning, I am a candidate of justice. Maybe the South-East has not been able to present their matter very well before the rest of Nigerians.
“I appeal to my party – APC, to allow a level-playing ground. And the South-East must know that power is not given, it is taken. You must reach out to people who you want to vote for you. But let justice reign,” Okorocha noted.
Okorocha also promised to reunite the country, adding that previous leaders had been unable to focus on Nigeria’s unity.
Meanwhile, supporters and other invited guests to Rochas Okorocha’s 2023 presidential declaration were locked out of the hall of International Conference Centre ICC.
The security men at the gate stopped people from entering despite having tags and cards to show they were invited for the Programme.
Even journalists and staff of the Rochas Foundation were also denied access to the programme that lasted less than an hour.
Reacting to the development, Okorocha, described the fresh charges of fraud against him by the EFCC as politically motivated.
Speaking on Channels Television’s ‘Politics Today’ programme yesterday, Okorocha said, “I am not aware of N2.8 billion suit but what I do know is that the stage I find myself with EFCC is that I have an order against EFCC from Federal High Court on my human rights abuses and the EFCC refused to obey that order. Again, the EFCC asked the judge to recuse himself or resign from the case.
“It’s been one drama or the other but what is happening, I don’t want to say it is politically motivated but it is looking more like it. EFCC is an investigation agency but EFCC should please try and not make it look like a political issue and obey simple court directives.
“They should try and investigate the matter and get real facts before they start advancing some of the actions they take.