" ITREALMS: Igbinedion heads to Appeal Court over money laundry judgement

Monday, November 23, 2015

Igbinedion heads to Appeal Court over money laundry judgement

Mr. Mike Igbinedion, an aide to the former Edo State governor, Lucky Igbinedion has resolved to challenge his sentencing by Justice A.M. Liman of the Federal High Court in Benin City at the Appellate Court, reports ITRealms.

Sources close to Igbinedion, disclosed to ITRealms that the former Governor’s aide would be challenging the judgement of April 30, 2015 which fined him, Mike Igbinedion, the sum of N1,000,000.00 each on three counts or serve prison sentence of 2 years on each of the count.

ITRealms gathered that the outcome of the alleged politically motivated case has generating several reactions with some claiming that the judge played to the gallery with the kind of judgement and attendant fine on Michael Igbinedion.

The next step by Mike Igbinedion may not be unconnected to scores of advice from legal experts who described the judgement as malicious, especially considering the circumstances of his office as Personal Assistant to the Governor, a position that made it inevitable for him to handle cash well over N500, 000.00 allowed by the Money Laundry Act. 

The experts had also made references to the precedence of cases involving Femi Fani-Kayode, and the Lagos State House of Assembly Speaker and his Personal Assistant who were earlier found not guilty of the same offence, adding that there is urgent need for a review of the Nigerian justice system.

Going through the arguments of Michael Igbinedion’s lawyer, the experts argued, it is obviously clear that the Money Laundry Act was enacted specifically to checkmate activities of narcotic trafficking and may not have considered transactions, such as spending of security votes by the president or governors. 

Igbinedion’s lawyer had also submitted that the practice of cash payment was well established in the government and that Michael at that particular time acted as an agent of the government. 

A Public Affairs analyst, Mr. Orobosa Omo-Ojo, told newsmen that the trial and conviction of Michael Igbinedion amounts to jungle justice, when considered against the backdrop that he was never in any position in government, either as Commissioner, Special Adviser or Special Assistant, where money was budgeted or allocated to his office and thus misused or peculated. 

“His only crime is that he followed the laid down financial rules and regulations prescribed for the office of the Personal Assistant to the Governor, as well as implementing the statutory instructions of his Principal, the Governor,” Omo-Ojo said.

He further said that it is obvious that Mike is a victim of high stakes politics and that he was convicted on flimsy ridiculous counts. The Economic Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) wanted to use the Igbinedion family as scapegoat in their illogical fight against corruption in Nigeria. They were vindictive and acted out a script. That explains why they went for a strict liability offense because they knew they had a bad and seriously flawed case.”

Mr Omo-Ojo, JP however called on the Nigerian Law Reform Commission to realize that the 1995 and 2004 Money Laundry Act is now out of tune with the reality of 2015 monetary system.

Isaac Oyimah/GEE 
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