Ex-Imo Commissioner gets three years jail term

Factual Pursuit of Truth for Progress

An Imo State High Court has handed a former Commissioner for Transport in Imo state, Laz Okoroafor-Anyanwu, a three years jail sentence.

Okoroafor-Anyanwu, who served under the administration of former Governor Rochas Okorocha, was found guilty of a three-count charge bothering on fraud, looting of public funds and stealing.

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.

Delivering the judgment in Court 14, on Tuesday, the presiding Judge, Justice K.A Lewanya, said Okoroafor-Anyanwu was found guilty of diverting N180 million of state funds into a private company account where he is a major shareholder and sole signatory when 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.

According to the Judge, Okoroafor-Anyanwu was also found guilty of violating the Public Procurement Act, abuse of office, and using his office to gain undue advantage in his dealings during his tenure as a Commissioner and ITC Chairman.

He said the counsel to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Barrister Michael Ani, who is the prosecuting counsel, was able to prove beyond reasonable doubt that when Okoroafor-Anyanwu was Commissioner between 2015 and 2019, he transferred the sum of N100 million from the ITC account to his private company named Oma Oil Industries Limited, which is against Section 12 and 19 of the ICPC Act 2020 for a Public Servant.

The judge added that Okoroafor-Anyanwu signed off another N80 million from government coffers directly to his private company account on the notion that he was to procure certain vehicles for the management of ITC without due process and recourse to the public procurement act.

While Okoroafor-Anyanwu pleaded not guilty to the charge, the judge, in her ruling, sentenced him to three years imprisonment with no option of fine.

The judge also ruled that the looted N180 million found in his account be forfeited to the Imo State Transport Company.

Counsel to the EFCC, Barrister Ani, described the judgment 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.


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