Dissatisfied over Tuesday’s judgement that set free former House of Representatives Speaker Dimeji Bankole and his Deputy, Usman Nafada, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission are back in court to challenge Justice Suleimon Belgore’s judgment, absolving the two top house members of corruption while in office.
Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Wednesday filed a notice of appeal against Tuesday’s judgment by Justice S.B. Belgore of the Federal High Court in which he dismissed the vast corruption charges brought against the former Speaker his deputy. The judge said the two men had no case to answer.
At the Court of Appeal in Abuja, EFCC prosecuting counsel, Festus Keyamo, re-affirmed the strength of the case against the duo asserting that Justice Belgore erred in law on various grounds, including duo had no cases to answer.
Mr Keyamo among other things challenged Justice Belgore that:
• Even though the accused person was not a signatory to the House of Representatives’ Account, so long as he took part in taking decisions that affected the operations of those accounts the way they were operated, then he was definitely entrusted with the accounts.
• Evidence clearly shows that the accused person was present at meetings where it was collectively “resolved” to obtain loans and increase “running costs”. Without those resolutions, the accounts would not have been operated/accessed in the manner they were operated/accessed.
• Both in fact and in law, the offence of theft can be charged together with criminal breach of trust, contrary to the decision of the learned trial judge. All the ingredients of the offence of theft were proved by the prosecution.
• So long as the accused person had no authority to approve and increase “running cost” and to obtain loans, then their resolution was an agreement to commit an act by illegal means.
• The prosecution successfully established all the ingredients of the conspiracy to commit theft.
The EFCC said more grounds would be filed upon receipt of the records, and urged the Court of Appeal to set aside the ruling of the lower court and to remit the case for retrial before another judge.
Bankole it has been proven had acquired fortunes that have not been commensurate with his earnings as the Speaker of House of Representatives and therefore proven cases against proved he had abused public office by benefiting through fraudulent means from his tenure in office.
He was accused of using the House account to borrow personal loans from a Bank.
On November 21, 2011, the court heard how Mr. Bankole and Mr. Nafada unilaterally increased allowances of members from N17 million per quarter to N42 million per quarter, thereby automatically dumping a burden of N60.480 billion annually on innocent Nigerians. Worse still, they took a loan of N42billion from two banks to fund that burden, and diverted the excess accruing from the loan into their personal accounts.
It is also on record that Mr. Bankole used his new riches to purchase choice properties, some of them at giveaway prices. He even “bought” his official residence for just N40 million.
According to Justice Belgore, although it is morally wrong, morally indefensible and morally insensitive for the House, under the leadership of Bankole and Nafada to have increased their allowances and running costs” from N27million to N42million per quarter, per member, it was only a moral misdeed and not a criminal offence. he set free the duo on ground of no case to answer.