Justice C.J. Aneke of the Federal High Court in Lagos has ordered the release of the passport of the Senator representing Delta North, Peter Nwaoboshi, to enable the lawmaker to embark on a trip to Indonesia.

Nwoboshi was charged with an alleged fraud of N322m by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

He was re-arraigned on Friday before Justice Aneke, who took over the case from Justice Mohammed Idris, who was in June elevated to the Court of Appeal.

Like he did when he was first arraigned before Justice Idris on April 25, 2018, Nwaoboshi pleaded not guilty when the charges were read to him afresh. His co-defendants, Golden Touch Construction Project Limited and Suiming Electricals Limited, equally reiterated their not-guilty plea.

The defence counsel, Emmanuel Kachukwu (SAN), urged Justice Aneke to allow the senator continue with the bail earlier granted him by Justice Idris. He also urged the judge to order the release of Nwaoboshi's passport to enable him to travel to Indonesia on October 8 and return on October 19, 2018. Justice Aneke granted both prayers.

The judge said the passport should be returned to the court's registrar by October 23 and adjourned further proceedings in the case till October 25.

The charges against Nwaoboshi and his co-defendants border on conspiracy and money laundering. In the charges, the EFCC claimed that Nwaoboshi and Golden Touch Construction Project Limited purchased a property known as Guinea House, Marine Road, Apapa, Lagos for N805m between May and June 2014.

The anti-graft agency claimed that N322m out of the N805m, which Nwaoboshi and the firm paid for the property, was part of proceeds of "an unlawful act, to wit: fraud". The EFCC alleged that the N322m was transferred to the vendor of the property on the order of Suiming Electricals Limited.

Suiming Electricals Limited was accused of aiding Nwaoboshi and Golden Touch Construction Project Limited to commit money laundering on or about May 14, 2014. The prosecution said the defendants acted contrary to sections 18(a) and15(2)(d) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011 and are liable to punishment under Section 15(3) of the same Act.

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