The Federal High Court in Lagos has discharged and acquitted former President Goodluck Jonathan’s aide, Dr Waripamo Owei-Dudafa, over an alleged N1.6billion fraud charge.
Dudafa, a former Senior Special Assistant to Jonathan on Domestic Affairs, was docked alongside Iwejuo Joseph Nna 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 EFCC failed to prove any of the 22-count charge beyond reasonable doubt against Owei-Dudafa and ex Heritage Bank worker, Iwejuo Joseph Nna.
He said the anti-graft agency’s case was “based on suspicions” but that suspicions “cannot take the place of legal evidence.”
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 proper investigation.
While saying that money laundering was difficult to prove, the judge said the prosecution tried its best to prove the case, but its best did not measure up to the expected minimum requirement to secure a conviction.
Idris said the case of the EFCC was built on suspicion and suspicion, no matter how strong, could not be used to secure a conviction.
He held that the EFCC did not conclude an investigation before rushing to court, thereby living loopholes. He dismissed the entire 22 counts against Dudafa and Iwuejo, discharged and acquitted them.
The defendants had been standing trial since 2016.