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CUBANA CHIEF PRIEST, PASCAL OKECHUKWU PLEADS NOT GUILTY OF NAIRA ABUSE 

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CUBANA CHIEF PRIEST, PASCAL OKECHUKWU PLEADS NOT GUILTY OF NAIRA ABUSE                                                                               18-04-24

By Sadiq Aminu                                                                 Cubana Chief Priest, Pascal Okechukwu, has pleaded not guilty to three charges of Naira abuse filed against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Okechukwu, who appeared in court dressed in a wine-coloured senator buba and sokoto style, remained calm as the charges were read out to him.

His defence counsel, Chikaosolo Ojukwu (SAN), informed the court that two applications were filed on behalf of his client.

The first was a preliminary objection challenging the court’s jurisdiction to try the case while the second was a bail application for the defendant.

Ojukwu urged the court to grant his client bail in the most liberal terms.

The prosecuting counsel of the EFCC, Bilikisu Buhari, confirmed that the two applications had been served on the prosecution.

However, Buhari opposed the submission and urged the court to allow the defendant to take his plea first.

Ojukwu said he had no objections to his client taking his plea when asked by the court.

The three-count charge was read, and Okechukwu pleaded not guilty.

Ojukwu argued that the offence for which his client was charged was a misdemeanor that carried a maximum sentence of 6 months imprisonment or a fine of N50, 000 or both.

He urged the court to exercise discretion in favour of the defendant.

The defense counsel further argued that the defendant is not well and has palpitation of the heart. He urged the court to grant him bail in liberal terms.

The judge granted the defendant bail in the sum of N10 million, with three sureties in like sum. One of the sureties must be a civil servant not below grade level 16 in federal or Lagos state government service.

The other two must be gainfully employed and have property within the jurisdiction of the court, and the title documents of the properties must be verified by the deputy registrar of the court.

The trial Judge handed over the defendant to his lawyer, Ojukwu, and ordered that the bail conditions must be fulfilled within 7 days, failing which the bail will be revoked.

Justice Ogundare adjourned the case to May 2 for trial and for the hearing of pending applications regarding the jurisdiction of the court to hear the suit.

The three-count charge against Okechuku was filed on April 4 by Mr. Rotimi Oyedepo (SAN) and seven other lawyers representing the chairman of the EFCC.

The charges alleged that Okechukwu tampered with funds in the denomination of Five Hundred Naira notes issued by the Central Bank of Nigeria by spraying them for two hours during social events held in February 2024 and January 2024, and sometime in 2020, at Eko Hotel in Lagos.

These actions were considered an offence, contrary to and punishable under Section 21(1) of the Central Bank Act 2007.

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