Court quashes N19.2b charge against Sylva
THE Federal High Court, Abuja Division, yesterday dismissed the N19.2 billion fraud charge brought against the former governor of Bayelsa State, Timipre Sylva, by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Last week, the office of the Director of Public Prosecution in the Ministry of Justice had withdrawn a N2.45 billion criminal charge against Sylva, which was filed before Justice Evoh Chukwu of the Federal High Court, on the claim that it wanted to consolidate it with the instant case before Justice A. R. Mohammed. Earlier, counsel to Sylva, Prince Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), had filed a preliminary objection to the charge before Mohammed, describing it as an abuse of court process and praying the court to dismiss the charge.
In his ruling yesterday, Justice Mohammed held that the charges instituted against Sylva by the EFCC were an abuse of court process since they were based on the same set of transactions involved in the N2.45 billion fraud case that were recently dropped against the accused person.
The court also held that the EFCC attempted to interfere with the administration of justice by withdrawing the N2.45 billion charge after the court had heard and adjourned for ruling on Sylva’s notice of preliminary objection, complaining of the multiplicity of the charges filed against him by the EFCC.
Justice Mohammed further held that if EFCC was ready to prosecute the accused person, it ought to withdraw the charges before the court since they were the ones filed after the one before Justice Chukwu.
Reacting to the ruling, Sylva’s media aide, M Doifie Buokoribo, said “the ruling today by Justice Ahmed Mohammed has at long last vindicated Timipre Sylva and ended an elaborate game of cat and mouse being played by EFCC on purpose to frustrate the political life of the former governor.
“The judge clearly accused EFCC of interfering with the administration of justice and abuse of court process while dismissing all the corruption charges against the former governor.
“All the multiple charges by EFCC against Sylva and his associates had a single aim – to persecute, intimidate and harass him, and in so doing destroy his political career. “We are happy that at last justice has been done in this matter.
We are very much relieved that all the attempts by the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan to keep Sylva away have failed.”
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