The lawyer of Obinwanne Okeke, who was arrested last year by America’s Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), has argued that his client did not commit any fraud in the United States of America. As such, American prosecutors do not have the jurisdiction to charge him to court.
As Nairametrics had earlier reported, Okeke was arrested last August by the FBI while trying to board a flight from the US back to Nigeria. Four months after his arrest, Okeke’s lawyers filed a preliminary objection seeking to dismiss the case. He was later charged to court in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, accused of two counts of wire and computer fraud.
The judge in charge of the case had scheduled February 18th 2020 to hear the case. It was during the proceeding that The Iweanoges Firm, which represents the suspect, argued that the case be dismissed because the fraud charges lack jurisdiction ground.
The defense lawyers argued that their client should never have been arrested and charged to court in the US because there is no evidence that he defrauded American citizens or companies.
Note that the prosecutors had specifically stated in the charge against Okeke that he defrauded a Unatrac to the tune of $11 million. Unatrac is a subsidiary of the American heavy equipment maker.
Although Okeke’s lawyers did not outrightly deny the crime for which he was accused, their argument is that the crime should not be prosecuted in the USA. After all, the fraud was not committed against any American entity. The lawyers also provided evidence to back up their claim, according to a report by All Africa.
Responding to this claim, the prosecutors said that the defense lawyers were wrong to have claimed that no American company was defrauded by Okeke. The prosecutors also assured that during the course of the trial, that more evidence would be provided to prove that Okeke’s fraud affected American interests. According to them, the initial indictment was only intended to show probable cause in order to enable Okeke’s arrest.
At the end of the proceeding, both prosecuting and defense teams agreed to adjourn the commencement date for the trial until another date is determined by both parties. The judge granted the request but also ruled that Obinwanne Okeke must remain in jail for the meantime until his lawyers can be able to apply and secure bail for him.
Recall that Obinwanne Okeke’s arrest shocked many people in Nigeria. The self-acclaimed entrepreneur and CEO of Invictus Group was once among Forbes Africa’s highly coveted 30 under 30 list.
Following his arrest by the FBI, a Federal High Court in Lagos ordered the permanent forfeiture of Obinwanne Okeke N280,555,010 to the Federal Government.