AN IMO State High Court in Owerri has sentenced a former Commissioner for Transport in the state, Laseberry Okafor Anyanwu, to three years imprisonment over a four-count charge that bordered on abuse of office and fraudulent diversion of N180 million.
Anyanwu was a commissioner during the administration of former governor Rochas Okorocha.
The presiding judge, Justice K. A Lewanya, convicted and sentenced Anyanwu on Tuesday, March 14.
According to a statement by the spokesperson of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Wilson Uwujaren, Anyanwu diverted the said sum from the account of the Imo Transport Company to Oma Oil & Industries Ltd, a company in which he has an interest through phoney contracts.
One of the counts reads, “Prince 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 Company’s account with Imo State Microfinance bank’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 company.”
Another count reads, “Prince 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 Transport’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 company.”
The defendant had pleaded not guilty to the four counts, setting the stage for the matter to proceed to trial.
During the trial, the prosecution called three witnesses and tendered several documents, which were admitted in evidence as exhibits.
At the close of the prosecution’s case, the defendant opened his defence and testified for himself.
Delivering judgment, Justice Lewanya held that the prosecution had proved the case against the defendant, convicted and sentenced him to one-year imprisonment, each on counts 2, 3, and 4, without an option of a fine.
The sentence is to run concurrently.
Justice Lewanya, however, discharged and acquitted him on count one.
The judge further ordered that the sum of N180 million in the defendant’s accounts, already the subject of an interim forfeiture order, be forfeited to the Imo State Government.