The scheduled arraigned of President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Mr Paul Usoro (SAN), finally happened today as he was arraigned before the Federal High Court, sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos over alleged N1.4bn fraud charge.
Usoro who was docked on ten count charge bordering on fraud was however granted bail by Justice Muslim Hassan in the sum of N250million with one surety who must have landed property in Lagos, in like sum.
The court further ordered that both the defendant and surety must deposit their travelling documents with the Registrar of the court.
The arraignment was supposed to have come up last week was later adjourned till today following defence argument that it was yet to sight the chargeof the alleged crime.
Usoro who was dressed in black suit, was accompanied by seven Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SANs) led by a former NBA President, Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN).
He pleaded not guilty to a 10-count charge of fraudulent conversion of N1.4bn the prosecution said belong to the Akwa Ibom State Government.
Mr. Rotimi Oyedepo led the prosecution team for the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), on behalf of the Federal Government.
Earlier, at the mention of the case, the defence had argued for arraignment of the NBA President to be tansferred to Abuja, which the trial Justice Muslim Hassan refused.
The judge has however adjourned further hearing has till February 5 and March 6, 2018.
In the charge designated FHC/418c/18, Usoro was accused of diverting the said sum into personal use.
Specifically, the anti-graft agency insisted that Usoro converted and laundered the money in connivance with the state governor, Udom Emmanuel.
However, governor Emmanuel was not listed as a defendant in the charge on the reason that he is “currently constitutionally immuned against criminal prosecution.”
According to the Commission, the NBA chairman whilst conniving with the other mentioned defendants conspired among themselves to commit the alleged offence sometime in 2015 “within the jurisdiction of this honourable court”.
The EFCC lawyer, Oyedepo who signed the charge argued that the alleged offence committed by the NBA President is contrary to Section 18 (a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011.
The commission further suggested that Usoro is liable to be punished under Section 15(3) of the same Act.