Lukman Olabiyi, Lagos
A Federal High Court in Lagos has discharged and acquitted Dr Waripamo Owei-Dudafa, a former aide to ex President Goodluck Jonathan, who was standing trial for a N1.6 billion fraud indictment.
Dudafa, a former Senior Special Assistant to ex President Jonathan on Domestic Affairs, was docked alongside one Iwejuo Joseph Nna, a banker, on a 22-count charge bordering on money laundering, failure to declare assets and conspiracy to conceal proceeds of crime to the tune of over N1.6 billion.
The defendants were said to have allegedly concealed N1.6 billion through a company, Seagate Property Development and Investment Limited, an offence contrary to Section 18(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) (Amendment) Act, 2012, and punishable under Section 17(a) of the same law.
They were also accused of knowingly concealing proceeds of crime through Avalon Global Property Development Company Limited in the sum of N399,470,000.00, among other alleged criminal offences.
The defendants had pleaded not guilty to the charge preferred against them by the the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
In a 190-page judgment, Justice Mohammed Idris held that the EFCC failed to prove any of the 22-count charges beyond a reasonable doubt against Owei-Dudafa and former Heritage Bank worker Nna.
He said the anti-graft agency’s case was “based on suspicions” but that suspicions “cannot take the place of legal evidence.”
Justice Idris also observed that the EFCC failed to call vital witnesses, including Jonathan and former National Security Adviser Sambo Dasuki, who could have helped its case.
The judge noted that a particular vital witness, Sompre Omeibi, who could have linked the defendants to the offences, was not summoned to testify.
“Why did the prosecution fail to call Sompre Omiebi to testify?” the judge wondered.
The court also dismissed the EFCC’s claim that the bags delivered by Dudafa to Jonathan contained dollars.
Justice Idris held that there was no proof for that.
“How did the prosecution know that the bags contained dollars?” the judge wondered again.
He said the prosecution failed to carry out a proper investigation.