Chidiebube Okeoma, Owerri
The Imo State Police Command on Monday arraigned a former Commissioner of Commerce and Industry to Governor Rochas Okorocha, Best Mbanaso, in a magistrate’s court.
The 11 counts bordered on fraud, stealing and destruction of fuel stations in the state.
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Mbanaso was also an ex-Special Adviser on Mayoral Affairs (Orlu zone) to Okorocha before he fell out with the governor based on who should become the next governor of the state.
Mbanaso was reportedly arrested last Wednesday.
He pleaded not guilty to the 11 counts.
He was alleged to have, between 2012 and 2013, with intent to defraud, received fuel station materials valued at over N38m from Olison Enterprises, belonging to Chief Oliver Anopuome, acting on behalf of the Imo State Government.
He was also alleged to have received 33,000 litres of diesel, valued at over N5m, belonging to Olison Enterprises.
The police prosecutor, Caleb Achi, equally accused the ex-commissioner of maliciously destroying a fuel station belonging to one Oliver under the false pretences of acting for the state government.
The charges read in part, “That you, Best Mbanaso, conspired with others now at large to steal underground fuel tanks and a GP water tank belonging to Olison Enterprises….”
The magistrate, Adaugo Nosiri, complained over the manner the charges were prepared.
She also flayed the police for arraigning the accused on charges the magistrate’s court lacked jurisdiction over.
The defence counsel, Fintan Ilika, orally sought for bail for his client on liberal terms.
According to the defence lawyer, the charges were “politically orchestrated.”
The magistrate granted bail to the accused on all the charges she had jurisdiction over with one surety who must be a civil servant from grade level 10.
While adjourning the matter to September 10, she directed that the files be sent to the Directorate of Public Prosecutions for legal advice.
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