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President of the Nigeria Bar Association, NBA, Mr. Paul Usoro (SAN), has submitted himself to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), to face trial over his alleged illegal diversion of about N1.4 billion belonging to the Akwa Ibom State Government.

However, Usoro, who recently emerged 29th President of NBA, said he is yet to receive a copy of the 10-count money laundering charge EFCC entered against him before the Federal High Court in Lagos.

Though, EFCC had in the charge alleged that Usoro and the Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Udom Emmanuel, converted and laundered funds from the coffers of the state under the pretence that it was payment for “legal services,” briefing newsmen yesterday on key decisions the National Executive Committee (NEC), Usoro said he resolved to appear before trial Justice Muslim Hassan today to enter his plea to the charges he said were “baseless and politically motivated”.

On NBA leadership Usoro accused EFCC of engaging in unnecessary witch-hunt, insisting that the agency leaked copies of the charges to the media in a bid to instigate his removal as NBA President and when asked if he would relinquish the NBA Presidency and step aside to clear his name,

“No, I will not. It is the National Executive Committee, NEC, that has the power and could decide whether I should resign or not. “This matter was presented to the NEC and we had a very good and successful meeting. Nobody raised the issue with regard to whether I should stay or leave.

“The NEC adopted my address as far as this matter is concerned. By the way, I have seen it happen a number of times when this kind of incident is hyped up simply to drive people away from office. “We saw it in the case of the Senate President, but ultimately, what happened? The Senate President was absolved of any form of crime. What would have happened assuming the Senate President had resigned?

“We have also seen where it has happened and someone was hounded that way and he resigned only to be found not to have done it. “It is also very possible that in this particular instance, what these people wanted was that hype.

“All of you are aware that there was plenty of leakages before the NBA NEC meeting. The reason was to instigate NEC to possibly get me out of office, but that did not succeed.” He said.

On EFCC’s investigation on NBA accounts over alleged N40 million that was overdrawn by the immediate past leadership of the association, Usoro claimed ignorant saying, “I am not aware of such complaint and am not also in support of EFCC getting involved in our association. Except the association itself makes a complaint to EFCC, it does not have any business to come into our affairs. I don’t think EFCC has the power to poke nose into affairs.”

He further disapproved the anti-graft agency for engaging in media trial, saying there was need for a legislation to sanction prosecuting agencies that engage in such practice.

According to him, “that was how they also alleged that I bribed a judge, but when the facts came out, it was proved that I did not bribe any judge. “There should be an end to media trial of persons. Even though I have not been served with the charge, I have decided to be in court on Monday(today). But the facts as I know it, I am completely innocent of the allegations.”


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