N7.47 Billion Fraud – EFCC Appeals Against Martins

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Abuja — Arising from the decision of the F.C.T High Court Gudu, to discharge the coordinator of the defunct Police Equipment Foundation (PEF), Mr. Kenny Martins and three others of the criminal case filed against them, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has appealed to Court of Appeal on grounds that the ruling is ‘unreasonable and unwarranted and cannot be supported having regard to the evidence’.

The Court presided over by Justice Abubakar Talba, on Tuesday, November 24, 2009, discharged Martins of a nine-count charge bordering on conspiracy, criminal breach of trust and misappropriation of PEF funds to the tune of N7.47 billion. Others accused by the EFCC are Ibrahim Dumuje, Yero Gella and Nigerstalg Ltd.

The anti-graft agency in a notice of appeal to the Court of Appeal signed by its legal representative, Mr. Festus Keyamo expressed dissatisfaction with the whole decision of Justice Talba on eight grounds.

The document reads in part: “TAKE NOTICE that the Appellant being dissatisfied with the decision contained in the judgment of Honourable Justice A.M TALBA of the High Court of Justice of the Federal Capital Territory delivered on Tuesday, November 24, 2009, do hereby appeal to the Court of Appeal upon the grounds set out in paragraph 3 and will at the hearing of the appeal seek the reliefs set out in paragraph 4”.

Although the trial judge stated that he payment of the sum of N774,000,000 out of N7,740,000,000 had been explained as it is covered by the article V of exhibit T, the EFCC argued that: “By the terms of Exhibit which was dated March 14, 2006, it was to be operative for 12 months. As a result, the transfer of N7,740,000,000 to the presidential Committee on PEF (not Nigerstalg Ltd) which was done in May, 2007, was not covered by the said Exhibit T, so the accused persons needed to explain why they still deducted the said ten percent (10%) after the 12-month period”.

Another ground presented by the Appellant is that contrary to the insinuation of Judge Talba, “there was no contradiction between the evidence of PW6 and Article V (d) of Exhibit T, since Exhibit T was no longer valid at the time ALGON (which PW6 represented) paid the money into the account of the Presidential Committee on Police Equipment Fund”.

Ground six on the appeal document noted that the trial Judge erred in discharging the accused persons on the first count of “conspiracy”, since there was ample evidence that the accused person acted together in making the fraudulent withdrawals and transfers.

Justice Talba was further accused of making his ruling too long and too detailed as according to the EFCC, a ruling on no-case ought not to be too long and lengthy as it is only to deliberate on the essential ingredients of the offence as charged.

While dismissing the ruling as unreasonable, unwarranted, the Appellant through Keyamo, remitted the case to the Chief Judge of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja for re-assignment to another Judge of the High Court of the Federal Capital terriktory, Abuja, other than Justice Talba, for re-trial.

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