The Minister of Youth Development, Boni Haruna, has said that he has been cleared by a court, of charges of corruption level against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Mr. Haruna, who was governor of Adamawa state from 1999-2007, was, alongside three others, arraigned by the EFCC on August 5, 2008, in a Federal High Court in Abuja, on a 21-count charge of money laundering and stealing.
The three other accused charged along with him were Mohammed Inuwa Bassi, Minority Leader in the Adamawa State House of Assembly, John Babani Elias who was at large, and Al-Akim Investment Nigeria Limited.
However, on May 10, 2009, the EFCC filed fresh charges against the former governor and the three others in the same court in Abuja.
In the 28-count amended charge, Mr. Haruna and the three other persons were accused of fraud and embezzlement of public funds while the former was governor of his home state, Adamawa.
Specifically, the accused were alleged to have on or about the 13th day of November, 2002 at Yola, fraudulently altered a Guaranty Trust Bank Plc Cheque No.0348501 dated 13/11/2002 in the sum of N 10,000,000.00 drawn on account number No. 3613406139110 to Guaranty Trust Bank Plc, operated by him in the name of Mohammed Inuwa Bassi, with intent that the said cheque may be acted as genuine and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 3 (2) (a) of Miscellaneous Offences Act, Cap 410 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 1990 as amended by the Tribunals (certain consequential Amendments, etc) Decree No. 62 of 1999 and punishable under Section 3 (2) of the same Act.
Similarly, he was alleged to have on or about the 12th day of March, 2003 while governor, fraudulently altered a Guaranty Trust Bank Plc, cheque No. 3049628 dated 12/3/2003 in the sum of N16,125,000.00 drawn on account number No. 361 3406139110 to Guaranty Trust Bank Plc, operated by him, in the name of Mohammed Inuwa Bassi, with intent that the said cheque may be acted upon as genuine and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 3 (2) (a) of Miscellaneous offences Act, Cap 410 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 1990 as amended by the Tribunals (certain Consequential Amendments, etc), Decree no. 62 of 1999 and punishable under Section 3 (2) of the same Act.
However, in a letter to our editor dated July 10, 2014, the minister said Hon. Justice Balkisu Bello Aliyu of the Federal High Court, Yola, had cleared him (Mr. Haruna) of the allegations leveled against him by the EFCC.
The minister’s letter, written through his special assistant, Adamu Aliyu Mustapha, was specifically reacting to our lead story of Friday, July 4, 2014, titled: “How Jonathan’s 2015 bid dents anti-graft war”.
The minister, who accused us of being “biased” in our report, quoted Justice Balkisu Aliyu in her judgement in his favour as saying: “On the whole, I find no prima facie case established against the 1st defendant Boni Haruna and I discharge him accordingly. There is no vicarious liability iin criminal proceedings”.
The minister’s letter went on to state that: “The foregoing, undoubtedly excludes Mr. Haruna from your alleged category of politicians ‘being tried by EFCC who now enjoy ‘VIP’ treatment nationally’.
We have confirmed that Mr. Haruna has been cleared by the Federal High Court of the earlier allegations leveled against him by the EFCC.
Curiously, however, the court decision in favour of Mr. Haruna was granted January 28, 2014, after he had already been nominated for ministerial appointment by President Goodluck Jonathan, and barely a
week before his appearance before the Senate for screening.