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Published On: Wed, Apr 17th, 2019

Alleged N115m fraud: Court acquits suspended SEC DG, Mounir Gwarzo

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By Vivian Okejeme Abuja

The suspended Director General of the Security and Exchange Commission, SEC, Mounir Gwarzo, has been discharged and acquitted by a federal capital territory high court, Maitama.
The Independent and Corrupt Practices and Other Related Commission(ICPC) tried the SEC boss and the Executive Commissioner, Corporate Services at the establishment, Zakawaru Garuba, on a five-count charge of misappropriation of public fund to the tune of N115million.
Gwarzo was in November 2017, suspended by the Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun for alleged financial recklessness.
The trial judge, Justice Husseini Baba-Yusuf, in a ruling upheld a no-case-submission filed by the defendants after the prosecution closed its case.
Aligning with the defense, the judge held that the proof of evidence adduced by the prosecution was not enough to establish a prima-facie case that would require the court to compel the defendants to enter their defence to the charge.
The prosecution had in a charge sheet marked, CR/185/18, alleged that Gwarzo diverted over N104.8m as severance benefit, less than a month after he was appointed.
The anti-graft agency also claimed that the defendant received over N10million as a car grant.
This action according to the prosecution contravenes Section 19 of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2000.
Upholding a no-case-submission the defendants filed with respect to all the allegations against them, the judge held that ICPC failed to prove any of the essential elements of the offence against the Defendants.
Justice Baba-Yusuf ruled that the evidence presented by the prosecution were not only contradictory.
He also held that the evidences were manifestly discredited to the extent that no reasonable court or tribunal could rely on it to convict the defendants.
“The 1st Defendant is hereby discharged and acquitted of counts 1, 2 and 3 and by inference, all the charge against him”, the trial Judge held,
In the same vein, the judge also acquitted the 2nd defendant of the two counts against him.
Among other claims by the prosecution said, “That you, Mounir Gwarzo, on or about June 2015, while being the Director-General of the Securities and Exchange Commission, received the sum of N104,851,154.94 as severance benefits when you had yet to retire, resign or disengage from the service of SEC; conferred a corrupt advantage upon yourself and committed an offence under Section 19 of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act 2000.

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