The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), describes as unfortunate the acquittal of Mr Robert Azibaola, a cousin to former president, Goodluck Jonathan, who was charged for $40 million fraud before Justice Nnamdi Dimgba.
The move by EFCC is coming after , Mr Robert Azibaola and his firm, One Plus Holdings Nigeria Limited were discharged and acquitted by Justice Nnamdi Dimgba as the court ruled that the prosecution(EFCC) failed to prove its case against the defendants.
In the ruling, Justice Dimgba was of the view that the prosecution failed to contradict the explanation given by the defendants (Mr Robert Azibaola) 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 Mr Robert Azibaola 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.
After the judgment on Monday, and like we did promised that were going to bring you the reactions of the EFCC, the Anti-graft agency have released a statement on the Court’s ruling.
The EFCC in a statement released on Monday expressed 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.” the Commission said.
The Commission went further to state that:
“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”.