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Friday, 27 November 2015

Court quashes fresh 50-count graft charges against Sylva, others

A Federal High Court yesterday quashed a fresh 50-count charge of corruption slammed against former governor of Bayelsa State and governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Timipre Sylva and three others on the grounds that the charges constituted an abuse of court process.

In the fresh charges, Sylva is charged alongside Francis Okokuro, Gbenga Balogun, and Samuel Og-

buku. They allegedly used three companies – Marlin Maritime Limited, Eat Catering Services Limited, and Haloween-Blue Construction and Logistics Limited to move about N19.2 billion from Bayelsa State coffers between 2009 and 2012, under false pretence of using the withdrawn money to augment salaries of workers.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had filed the fresh charges against them two days after Justice Ahmed. Mohammed of the Federal High Court dismissed the 42-count charge of stealing brought against Sylva and his co-accused by the EFCC on the grounds that the prosecution’s application to consolidate the charges against the defendants amounted to an abuse of court process.

On June 1, 2015, Justice Evoh Chukwu, also of the Federal High Court, Abuja, struck out other case against Sylva following the applica- tion by the Ministry of Justice to withdraw it.

Delivering judgment yesterday, Justice Ademola agreed with counsel to the accused persons that indeed the fresh charges against his clients were a clear case of an abuse of court process.

Besides, Justice Ademola held that the mere fact that a court of coordinate jurisdiction dismissed the action had robbed his court of the jurisdiction to adjudicate on the matter.

The court, which frowned at what it described as the desperate attitude of the prosecution to convict the accused persons, said the criminal charge is a complete case of an abuse of court process.

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