The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, has indicated interest to appeal the acquittal of the cousin of former President Goodluck Jonathan, Mr. Robert Azibaola of corruption charges by a Federal High Court in Abuja.
In a statement, the commission describes as unfortunate the acquittal of Azibaola, who was charged for $40 million fraud before Justice Nnamdi Dimgba.
The EFCC expresses concern that despite the weight of evidence brought before the Court and witnesses presented, Justice Dimgba held that, “the prosecution must show directly how the defendant took possession of funds and knew that it forms part of proceeds of corruption.”
“Invariably, the Commission’s legal team will be studying the judgement thoroughly and will be taking necessary actions to appeal it as we hope that the appellate court shall view the merit of the prosecution and do justice to the case”, the statement added.
Recall that earlier this Monday, a Court in Abuja freed Azibaola.
Azibaola and his firm, One Plus Holdings Nigeria Limited were charged by the EFCC with money laundering offences for allegedly receiving the sum of $40m from the Office of the then National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki, in September 2014 for the “supply of tactical communication equipment”, a job the prosecution alleged was not done.
In his judgment, Justice Dimgba discharged and acquitted the defendants on the grounds that the prosecution failed to prove its case against the defendants.
He was of the view that the prosecution failed to contradict the explanation given by the defendants as to how the funds were expended.
The judge said the prosecution failed to fault the explanation by the defendant that the actual purpose for which the ONSA paid the $40m was concealed as “supply of tactical communication equipment” as was the practice in security management.
Justice Dimgba noted that the defendants, at trial, led both oral and documentary evidence, to the effect that the money was actually meant to be paid to Niger Delta militants, who were in the business of oil bunkering in other to achieve peace in the region and boost oil revenue in the country.
He noted that the defendants also provided evidence in support of their claim that the militants were actually paid and called one of them to testify that he received payment from the defendants, following which left the oil bunkering business.
The judge also noted that the defendants tendered vouchers to show that they equally paid other militant groups from the funds provided by the ONSA.
Justice Dimgba faulted the prosecution for not calling either Dasuki or officials of ONSA as its witness. He also wondered why Dasuki was not charged in the case.