news

Court dismisses N190m fraud suit against Oronsaye

By  | 

Ade Adesomoju, Abuja

A High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, in Maitama, on Tuesday, discharged  a former Head of Service of the Federation, Mr. Stephen Oronsaye,  of charges of  diverting about N190m belonging to the Committee on Financial Action Task Force.

In a ruling on the no-case submission filed by the former Head of Service, Justice Olasunmbo Goodluck, held that the prosecution was unable to substantiate any of the seven counts instituted against the defendant.

Orosanye, who was the chairman of the Presidential Committee on Financial Action Task Force set up under President Goodluck Jonathan government, was alleged to have diverted the N190m meant for the committee to his personal use.

The prosecuting agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, alleged that Oronsaye’s act contravened the provision of Section 311 of the Penal Code, punishable under Section 315 of the same code.

The prosecution called six witnesses and closed its case on November 15, 2016, following which Oronsaye, represented by a former Attorney General of the Federation, Kanu Agabi (SAN), filed a no-case submission on December 9, 2016.

Agabi argued that the prosecution did not establish any case against him to warrant his being called to enter defence.

In her ruling on Tuesday, Justice Goodluck held that the no-case submission as provided in Section 305 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, raised issues with colouration of preliminary objection.

She noted that in determining such application, the court had to consider whether the essential elements of the case had been proved, whether there was evidence linking the defendant with the commission of the offence charged and whether the evidence so far led was such that no reasonable court or tribunal could convict on it.

She held that although there was copious evidence from some of the prosecution witnesses that Orosanye collected from the Central Bank of Nigeria and the Office of the National Security Adviser money entrusted to him, the court was unable to hold that he converted same to his personal use.

She held that the prosecution ought to have called, as witnesses, one Sunday Odey, who was a Personal Assistant to Orosanye and Friday Ololo, both of whom were said to have made withdrawals from the Access Bank, where the defendant allegedly deposited the funds.

She said the prosecution failed to prove to ingredients in Section 311 of the Penal Code to establish that the defendant was a public officer as of the time he headed the committee.

The judge said there was contradictory evidence by the prosecution witnesses on whether the defendant was still the Head of Service of the Federation as of the time he chaired the committee.

The judge ruled, “No evidence has been led on the allegation that he converted the funds of his committee for his personal use; no evidence has been laid that the defendant violated the extant law on financial regulation; no evidence to establish that the defendant was a public officer.”

She added, “The court of trial must have as matter of law discharge him because it has no business scanting for evidence that is nowhere to be found. This is not consistent with the adversary system of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act.

“There is no need to proceed with the defence. The defendant is hereby discharged.”

The EFCC  has, however, said it will appeal the judgment.

Copyright PUNCH.               
All rights reserved. This material, and other digital content on this website, may not be reproduced, published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed in whole or in part without prior express written permission from PUNCH.

Contact: [email protected]

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *