An Abuja High Court yesterday discharged and acquitted a former Head of Civil Service of the Federation, Steve Oronsaye, of the seven- count corruption charges slammed on him by the Federal Government.
The Federal Government had filed a sevencount charge against Oronsaye who was also the Chairman, Presidential Committee on Financial Action Task Force, set up by former President Goodluck Jonathan.
The said charge bothers on alleged breach of trust and diversion of N190 million meant for the committee. Delivering ruling on the no case submission filed by the defendant, the trial judge, Justice Olasumbo Goodluck, held that the prosecution failed to establish a prima facie case against the defendant that can warrant the court to order the defendant to enter into defense.
The judge further held that here was contradictory evidence by the prosecution witnesses on whether the defendant was still the head of service as at the time he chaired the committee.
“The court seems to discredit the evidence, suffice it to say that there is no evidence linking the accused with the statutory element and ingredients of the offence with which he is charged.
“The trial court must, as a matter of law, discharge the defendant because it has no business scouting for evidence that is nowhere to be found. “I have looked through the case and I am unable to see any justifications for this case.
The defendant is hereby discharged,” the court held. The anti-graft agency has vowed to appeal the ruling.
At the trial stage, the prosecution called six witnesses who testify against the defendants.
After the prosecution closed its case, the defendant filed a no case submission. He premised his application on the ground that the prosecution had no case against him While arguing the application, Oronsaye, through his counsel, Kanu Agabi (SAN), submitted that there were omissions of essential elements in the charges against his client, adding that based on such account, the charges were imperfect. A
gabi further argued that the charge was initially two-count, but later amended to seven-count, an indication that something was wrong with the charge from the beginning.
He submitted that the prosecution neither specified the amount that was entrusted to the defendant, nor the mandate of the committee the defendant chaired, adding that that there was no evidence of personal use of the fund that the defendant was accused of misusing, but mere allegations.
He argued that the prosecution did not prove any offence proven to warrant the defendant to enter defence and urged the court to grant his no-case submission.
Opposing the application, the prosecuting comsel, Offem Uket, submitted that the prosecution has proved its case, adding that the defendant should enter his defence.
He also argued that it was not right to bring up the issue of imperfection of charges now, as it was against the provisions of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, (ACJA) 2015. He then prayed the court to dismiss the no-case submission.