By Vivian Okejeme Abuja
Justice Nnamdi Dimgba of the Federal High Court, Abuja, yesterday, discharged and acquitted a cousin to former President Goodluck Jonathan, Robert Azibaola of alleged involvement in $40million contract scam.
The trial judge, in the judgment held that the prosecution failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the defendant and his firm, One Plus Holdings Nigeria Limited, were involved in money laundering.
The defendants were alleged of being in possession and converting the sum of $40million dollars, received from Office of the former National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki to personal use.
The prosecution, the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) had on January 23, 2017, closed its case against the defendants, after calling ten witnesses in the trial.
Consequent upon that, the defense filed a no case submission, urging the court to dismiss the case, stating that the prosecution had not made any prima facie case to warrant the defendants to enter defense.
However, on March 19, 2018, Justice Dimgba, in the ruling of the no case submission, ruled that the defendants have a case to answer in respect of counts 2 and 3.
Delivering the judgement, yesterday, Justice Dimgba also held that the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) failed to provide essential elements of the charges, adding that the key witnesses, including the former National Security Adviser, NSA, Col. Sambo Dasuki, retd, who allegedly released the fund to the defendants, was not brought to testify in the matter.
Justice Dimgba held, ‘’In the light of Col. Sambo Dasuki not being charged alongside the Defendants in this charge, nor being convicted of any offences arising from this transaction by any competent court, it is difficult to condemn just on the face value the transaction which the said Col. Dasuki entered with the Defendants.
‘’It is not disputed that Col. Dasuki acted officially and not in his
personal capacity in the dealing which he entered with the Defendants by way of the alleged national security assignment.
‘’Having so acted officially, I am obliged by virtue of Section 166 of the Evidence Act which talks of the presumption of the regularity of official acts to presume that the transaction was regular and valid.
‘’In the final analysis, having reviewed all that has been provided, first by the Prosecution in proof of their case, and second by the Defence in proof of their Defence, in terms of oral and documentary evidence, as well as reviewed and evaluated the contentions made by counsel, in the written submissions and the oral adumbrations of same, I am inclined to resolve the issue which I identified earlier on in favour of the Defence.
‘’I am not convinced that the Prosecution have discharged the burden placed on them by law to prove the guilt of the Defendants beyond reasonable doubt on any of the remaining 2 counts of the charge which the Defendants were called upon to present a defence on.
‘’I am bound to resolve the doubts in favour of the Defence and so resolve them.
‘’In consequence, I find the Defendants as being Not Guilty as charged on both counts.
‘’I hereby discharge and acquit the Defendants of both the counts as listed in the charge,’’ Justice Dimgba held.
In the charge marked FHC/ABJ/CR/ 113/2016, EFCC, alleged that Aziboala had while being the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer (MD/CEO) and a signatory to the Zenith Bank account of One Plus Holdings Nig Ltd, on or about September 8, 2014, took possession and converted the $39, 999, 958 out of the $40million, and transferred same to the domiciliary account of One Plus Holdings Nig Ltd with Zenith Bank Plc Account No. 5070365750.