Commission to appeal acquittal of Taraba ex-governor
A Federal High Court sitting in Jalingo, Taraba State yesterday ordered the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to refund N228 million to three defendants within 72 hours.
The presiding judge, Stephen Pam, ruled that the case instituted by the EFCC against former Minister of Labour and Productivity, Joel Danlami Ikenya, former Speaker, Taraba State House of Assembly, Mark Bako Useni and gubernatorial candidate of All Progressives Congress (APC), Sani Abubakar Danladi, lacked merit.
He, therefore, asked the EFCC to, as a matter of urgency, refund the N228 million, which the defendants earlier returned to it.
Ruling on the over 100-page judgement, which lasted several hours, he also asked the EFCC to respect the ruling and allow the rule of law to prevail by not harassing or intimidating the defendants, who have been vindicated in court.
Pam, who could not understand why the EFCC failed to substantiate its evidences against the defendants, urged the commission to stop infringing on citizens’ rights.
Elated at the development, Ikenya applauded the court for allowing the rule of law to hold sway, urging the people to continually respect the judiciary, which he described as the last hope of the common man.
Responding, Useni also commended the judiciary, which he said, had done justice to the case, stressing the need for the people to continue to rely on the judiciary for justice.
Counsel to one of the defendants, Ibrahim Effiong, told The Guardian that the ruling was an indication that the rule of law has come to stay.
Effiong, who argued that the charges against the defendants was an abuse of court process, supported the judge and enjoined the EFCC to respect the ruling by allowing the rule of the law to prevail.
The defendants had been charged for offenses ranging from conspiracy to withdrawal of N450 million without due process, among others.
Meanwhile, the anti-graft body says it will appeal Pam’s ruling, which discharged and acquitted Danladi over alleged N450 million fraud.
EFCC’s Acting Spokesman, Tony Orilade, disclosed this in a statement issued yesterday in Abuja, saying the commission charged Danladi, Ikenya and Useni to Court for conspiracy and violation of financial regulations after a thorough investigation of their case.