Court Clears Ex-President Jonathan’s Cousin of $40 Million Fraud, EFCC to Appeal
An Abuja Division of the Federal High Court has discharged and acquitted former President Goodluck Jonathan’s cousin, Robert Azibaola, of $40 million laundering charges filed against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Delivering judgement on Monday, the judge, Nnamdi Dimgba, held that no credible evidence was adduced to establish the offence of money laundering against Mr Azibaola.
He added that the prosecutor should have produced former National Security Adviser Sambo Dasuki as a witness. Mr Dasuki is in the custody of the State Security Service.
He noted the following:
“That the prosecutor failed to provide witness from the Office of the National Security Adviser(ONSA).
“That the EFCC and the prosecutor cried more than the bereaved.
“That the prosecutor has not been able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt the 2-count charge against the defendant.”
“The defendant is hereby discharged and acquainted and not guilty,” the judge ruled.
The EFCC had in 2016 filed a seven-count charge against Mr Azibaola, his wife, Stella, and their company, saying that they received $40 million worth of illicit contract from Mr Dasuki.
They were arraigned on June 7, 2016, and were admitted to bail in the sum of N500 million each.
They were re-arraigned on April 27, 2017, on a nine-count amended charge.
In the cause of the trial, the prosecution called 10 witnesses and tendered 27 documented evidence against the three parties and closed its case.
Subsequently, Mr Azibaola and One Plus company were ordered to open their defence on the remaining two counts, as Stella’s name was struck off the charge sheet.
He denied diverting money to his personal use.
On February 6, 2019, his defence team led by Chris Uche, closed its defence after calling two witnesses, including Mr Azibaola, and presenting several documents.
Meanwhile, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, has described as unfortunate the acquittal of Robert Azibaola, a cousin to former president, Goodluck Jonathan, 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.”
The EFCC’s spokesperson, Tony Orilade said “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.: