The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Makurdi Zonal Office, on Wednesday, June 17, 2020, arraigned Deputy Speaker of Benue State House of Assembly Christopher Adaji, and Clerk of the Assembly, Torese Agena, before Justice S. O. Itodo of the Benue State High Court, Makurdi, for their complicity in an alleged fraud totalling N5, 040,950.
They were arraigned on two-count charge bordering on conspiracy, bribery, criminal breach of trust and abuse of office.
They pleaded not guilty when the charges were read to them.
Count one reads, “That you, Torese Agena, on 18th day of October, 2019 being Clerk, Benue State House of Assembly, within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, did use your position to confer unfair advantage to yourself as bribe, to the tune of N200, 000 (Two Hundred thousand naira only) from N50, 000, 000 (Fifty Million Naira) payable to High Profile Investment Nigeria Limited by the Benue State Government for the Benue State House of Assembly legislative tour to European countries, and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 19 of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2000 and punishable under the same Act.”
Count two reads, “That you Christopher Adaji between 8th – 14 of November, 2019 within the jurisdiction of this honourable Court spent the sum of N4, 840, 950 (Four Million, Eight Hundred and Forty Thousand, Nine Hundred and Fifty Naira only) the funds allocated to you for European legislative tour on your legal and other services and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 22(5) of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2000.”
After their no guilty plea, prosecution counsel, G. G. Chia-Yakua, asked the court for a date for the commencement of trial and also sought an order of the court to remand the defendants in a Nigeria Correctional Services centre.
However, the defence counsel prayed the court to grant them bail on liberal terms or on self-recognisance, adding that they would always be available in court to face trial.
Justice Itodo admitted them to bail on self-recognisance and thereafter adjourned the case until July 6, 7, and 8, 2020, for commencement of trial.