Former Chief Judge of Enugu State, Justice Innocent Umezulike (rtd)
was Friday arraigned before the Enugu High court presided over by
Justice Anthony Onovo on alleged corruption charge.
Umezulike was arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes
Commission (EFCC) over a ten million naira donation he allegedly received
during his book launch while in office in 2014.
He was accused of using his position to confer unfair advantage upon
himself by “inviting one Prince Arthur Eze, the Chief Executive
Officer (CEO), Oranto Petroleum Ltd who was a litigant in pending and
concluded civil matter to wit: suit No. E33/2010, Prince Arthur Eze
versus Diamond Bank plc and E/147/2012, Prince Arthur Eze versus Major Concepts ltd respectively”, which he was presiding over to his book
According to the charge sheet No EHC 174C/2017, the said Prince Arthur
Eze allegedly made donation of “ten million naira by a Fidelity bank
plc cheque drawn in the account of Oranto Petroleum ltd” to the book
titled ‘ABC of Contemporary Land Law in Nigeria’”.
The former Chief Judge was allegedly said to have accepted and paid
the money into his Zenith bank account number 1001189952. The offence
was said to have been committed sometime in February 2014.
Umezulike had pleaded not guilty to the charge read to him yesterday,
upon which his Counsel, Prof Agu G. Agu applied for his bail.
Justice Onovo had granted him bail in the sum of one million naira and
on self recognition as a former jurist, holding that a Federal High
Court in Portharcourt had also granted him bail on self recognition in
a matter he is involved in.
Before adjourning the matter to October 2nd and 3rd and November 26
and 27 for definite hearing, the Judge had warned against slanting of
reports of the proceedings as well as trial in the media.
His warning followed attempts by the defendant’s counsel to stop Journalists from taking his picture while in court.
Justice Onovo said Journalists would be allowed to take pictures and video clips before the court proceedings each day and not during the trial.
Umezulike himself was uncomfortable with the media coverage of his arraignment as he queried Journalist who focused their cameras on him in the court room. “Why are you taking my picture? I am inside the court. This is not right,” he said.