Former Imo State Transport Commissioner Sentenced to Three Years Imprisonment for Fraud and Looting Public Funds.
A former Commissioner for Transport in Imo State, Laz Okoroafor-Anyanwu, has been sentenced to three years imprisonment by the State High Court sitting in Owerri, the Imo State capital. He was found guilty of a three-count charge bothering on fraud, looting public funds, and stealing.
Justice K.A Lewanya delivered the judgment in Court 14, stating that Okoroafor-Anyanwu diverted N180 million of state funds into a private company account where he is a major shareholder and sole signatory. He did this while he superintended and doubled as Commissioner for Transport and the Chairman Interim Committee of the Imo State Transport Company (ITC), which is against Section 12 and 19 of the ICPC Act 2020.
The presiding judge also found Okoroafor-Anyanwu guilty of violating the Public Procurement Act, abusing his office, and using his office to gain undue advantage during his tenure as a commissioner and ITC chairman.
The prosecuting counsel, Barrister Michael Ani, representing The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), was able to prove beyond reasonable doubt that Okoroafor-Anyanwu transferred the sum of N100 million from the ITC account to his private company, Oma Oil Industries Limited, and signed off another N80 million from government coffers directly to his private company account without due process and recourse to the public procurement act.
Despite pleading not guilty, the judge in her ruling sentenced him to one-year imprisonment with no option of fine. She also ruled that the looted N180 million found in his account be forfeited to the Imo State Transport Company.
Reacting to the judgment, Barrister Ani, the Counsel to EFCC, described it as a welcome development and a great leap by the agency in the fight against corruption, abuse of public office, and embezzlement of public funds by political office holders.
Okoroafor-Anyanwu was arraigned before the Imo State High Court in November 2020 following a petition by an anonymous petitioner in Imo State who accused him of looting public funds, abuse of office, and embezzlement while holding brief as the Commissioner for Transport in Imo State between 2015 and 2019.
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