Friday, March 22, 2019 4:50 pm
A Federal High Court sitting in Jos on Friday quashed 19 out of the 21 counts of alleged N25 billion conspiracy and money laundering filed against former Governor Danjuma Goje.
The Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) in 2012, charged Goje with 21 counts of conspiracy and money laundering.
Also being charged along with Goje are Alhaji Aliyu El-Nafarty, former Chairman, Gombe State Universal Basic Education Board, Alhaji Sambo Tumu, his cousin, who was contracted to supply food to the Government House, and one S.M. Dakoro, a businessman.
The anti-graft agency alleged that the defendants conspired to defraud the state of about N25 billion via illegal acts, contrary to, and punishable under sections 15, 16, 17, 18 and 19 of the Money Laundering (Prohibition Act) 2011 as amended.
Tumu, who was contracted to supply food to the Government House, had since had his name struck out since his death.
Justice Babatunde Quadiri, in his ruling on a no case submission made by Goje on Dec. 3, 2018, said Goje and S.M. Dokoro has case to answer on count eight and nine out of the 12 count charges labeled against them.
The Judge also discharged the second accused person, Ubandom Nafaty, for not being found liable in all the 21 count charges and so declared him acquitted.
“In the case where the defendants made a no case submission to the court, and the prosecution failed to prove its case against them, the accused will be relief of all the charges nut where they are found liable, they have to defend themselves.
“Again, whatever evidences the prosecution brought and yet discredited, no case can be held against the accused persons as stated in section 36 of the constitution of Nigeria.
“In a no case submission, it’s not about the accused persons but the about the evidences submitted before the court by the prosecution
“Beside count eight and nine, which a prosecution witness testified that it was former Governor Goje that gave the directive for the auctioning of 50 units of Toyota Buses to Government functionaries, I hereby declare that the Goje and the 3rd accused person have case to answer.
“Nevertheless, the prosecution has failed to prove its evidences of count one to seven and 10 to 21, to show that the accused person committed the offences as charged.
“I hereby resolve the submission of no case in favour of the defendants in count 1one to seven and count 10 to 21 . the second defendant who has no case to answer is hereby discharged and acquitted, ’’ he declared.
Shortly after the ruling on the no case submission, Mr Wahab Shittu, the Prosecuting counsel, applied for an adjournment for the defence by the first and third accused.
Justice Quadiri adjourned the case to May 8, for opening of defence by the Goje.
Speaking to Journalist shortly after the ruling, Mr Paul Erokoro, Defence Counsel described the ruling as “very sound, ’’ “brilliant’’ and “well delivered.
According to him, the two remaining charges could well be defended to tell the world that Goje didn’t fail his people while he was governor of Gombe state between 2003 and 2011.