The Imo State High Court, Owerri, has convicted and sentenced a former Commissioner for Transport in the state to one yearâ€™s imprisonment for defrauding the state of N180 million.
Laseberry Okafor Anyanwu (also known as Lasberry Okafor) was on Tuesday convicted on three out of the four fraud charges preferred against him, according to a statement issued by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Wednesday.
The statement signed by EFCCâ€™s spokesperson, Wilson Uwujaren, said Mr Anyanwu diverted the N180 million from the account of the Imo Transport Company to the account of a private company, Oma Oil & Industries Ltd.
According to the prosecution, Mr Anyyanwu diverted the funds from the stateâ€™s transport company through phony contracts awarded to Oma Oil & Industries Ltd. The former public official was said to have an interest in the private firm.
He served as Commissioner for Transport in the administration of then governor, Rochas Okorocha.
Delivering judgement on Tuesday (14 March), the judge, K .A. Lewanya, held that the prosecution proved the case against the defendant.
He was convicted and sentenced to one-year imprisonment each on counts 2, 3, and 4 without an option of a fine. The judge ordered the sentence to run concurrently.
The judge, however, discharged and acquitted him on count 1.
He further ordered that the N180 million in the accounts of the defendant, already the subject of an interim forfeiture order, be forfeited to the Imo State Government.
The defendant had pleaded not guilty to the four counts, setting the stage for the matter to proceed to trial. In the course of the trial, the prosecution called three witnesses and tendered several documents which were admitted in evidence as Exhibits.
At the close of the prosecutionâ€™s case, the defendant opened his defence and testified for himself.
One of the charges reads: â€œPrince 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 Companyâ€™s account with Imo State Microfinance bankâ€™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 companyâ€.
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Another count reads: â€œPrince 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 Transportâ€™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 companyâ€.