By Ese Awhotu with agency report
A Federal High Court Sitting in Lagos has discharged and acquitted a former aide to ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, Waripamo Owei-Dudafa on an alleged N1.6 billion fraud charge.
Justice Mohammed Idris in his judgment yesterday held that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) failed to prove any of the 22-charge beyond reasonable doubt against Owei-Dudafa and a Heritage Bank staff, Joseph Iwejuo.
Justice Idris said the failure of the EFCC to call Jonathan, Omeibi, CBN governor, and Dasuki to testify in the case was fatal to the case of the prosecution.
He therefore said that EFCC’s case was “based on suspicions” and suspicions “cannot take the place of legal evidence.”
The observed that a particular vital witness, Sompre Omeibi, who could have linked the defendants to the offences, was not summoned to testify.
Justice Idris also said the prosecution failed to carry out a proper investigation as the EFCC did not conclude its investigation before rushing to court, thereby leaving loopholes.
In his ruling, Justice Idris, therefore, dismissed the entire 22 counts charge against Dudafa and Iwuejo.
However, the EFCC Prosecutor, Rotimi Oyedepo has indicated that the Commission will study the judgment as there legal grounds to challenge same.
Recall that, the EFCC had accused the defendants of concealing the N1.6billion through a company, Seagate Property Development and Investment Limited, an offence contrary to Section 18(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) (Amendment) Act, 2012 and punishable under Section 17(a).
They have also accused them of knowingly concealing proceeds of crime through Avalon Global Property Development Company Limited amounting to N399, 470,000.00, among others.
EFCC said Dudafa, between June 1 and June 4, 2015, “procured” Iwejuo and Ebiwise Resources to conceal N150 million, being proceed of crime.
Other companies allegedly used in laundering the money include Pluto Property and Investment Company Limited, Rotato Inter Link Services Limited and De Jakes Fast Food and Restaurant Nigerian Limited.
However, the defendants pleaded not guilty to the charge.
Meanwhile, the EFCC has vowed to appeal the judgement of the Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos that discharged and acquitted a former Senior Special Adviser to former President Goodluck Jonathan on Domestic Affairs, Waripamo-Owei Dudafa, and a banker, Joseph Iwuejo, who were charged for committing N1.6billion fraud. A statement on Thursday from EFCC spokesman, Wilson Uwujaren, said the commission is studying the details of the judgement and will approach the appeal court immediately.