A State High Court sitting in Owerri, the Imo State capital, has sentenced a former Commissioner for Transport under the Rochas Okorocha administration, Laz Okoroafor-Anyanwu, to three years imprisonment having been found guilty of a three-count charge bothering on fraud, looting public funds and stealing.
Delivering the judgment in Court 14, the presiding Judge, Justice K.A Lewanya, says 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 in the same vein, 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.
Even though Okoroafor- Anyanwu pleaded not guilty, the judge in her ruling sentenced him to one-year 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.
Meanwhile, while reacting to the judgement, Counsel to EFCC, Barrister Ani says it is 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.
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.