The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has charged Nigerian senator and former governor of Imo State, Rochas Okorocha, with allegations he conspired with others, including an APC politician and five companies, to steal N2.9 billion from public coffers.
The 17-count charge was filed on Monday before a federal high court in Abuja.
According to the commission, the former Imo governor allegedly conspired with others, including a member of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and five companies, to steal N2.9 billion public funds.
In addition to Mr Okorocha, other defendants are Anyim Nyerere Chinenye, Naphtali International Limited, Perfect Finish Multi Projects Limited, Consolid Projects Consulting Limited, Pramif International Limited, and Legend World Concepts Limited.
The charges were filed about the same time Mr Okorocha was declaring his intention to run for the office of the president in 2023.
Mr Okorocha, 59, was a two-term governor of Imo State, serving from 2011 to 2019 when he lost an intense political battle to install his son-in-law and Chief of Staff, Uche Nwosu, as a successor. He, however, succeeded in winning the Imo West senatorial election for himself as a candidate of the APC. The returning officer alleged he was forced to declare Mr Okorocha the winner under duress, making INEC delay issuing him a certificate of return.
His co-accused, Mr.Nyerere, open-source searches show, was the APC governorship candidate in the 2015 Abia State election and currently serves as a commissioner at the National Pension Commission.
Mr Nyerere features in all the 17 charges and is accused of conspiring with Mr Okorocha to steal and launder N2.9 billion belonging to Imo State and local government areas in the state in contravention of the Money Laundering Act 2011. As CAC searches by PREMIUM TIMES showed, he owns or controls three of the charged companies, namely Consolid, Pramif, and Legend World, all registered in Abuja.
According to the EFCC charges, the stolen funds were diverted between October 2014 and February 2016 from the Imo State Government House account and Imo State Joint Local Government Project account.