Justice Nnamdi Dimgba of the Federal High Court Abuja, has discharged and acquitted Shamsudeen Bala, son of Bauchi state governor , Bala Mohammed, of the fraud charges instituted against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
Bala was arraigned by the EFCC, alongside four companies – Bird Trust Agro Allied Limited, Intertrans Global Logistic Ltd, Diakin Telecommunications Ltd and Bal-Vac Mining Nigeria Ltd
The antigraft agency slammed a 20-count charge bordering on money laundering against him.
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He was said to have diverted funds when his father served as former FCT minister.
The EFCC told the court that defendant allegedly “acquired houses in highbrow areas of Abuja and paid cash to conceal the illicit origin of the funds.
“The assets include five plots of land at Asokoro Gardens; House FS 2 B, Green Acre Estate Apo-Dutse, Abuja; House FS 1A, Green Acre Estate, Apo-Dutse; FS 1B, Green Acre Estate, Apo-Dutse, Abuja and House 2A, No. 7, Gana Street, Maitama, Abuja,” the EFCC lawyer, Wahab Shittu had told the court.
But the governor’s son pleaded not guilty to the charges and maintained through his lawyer, Chris Uche SAN, that he had no case to answer.
On Tuesday, Justice Nnamdi Dimgba held that the EFCC did not prove its allegations beyond reasonable doubt and failed to establish the ingredients of the alleged offence.
On the EFCC’s allegations that the defendant forged signatures and documents to access illegal funds, the judge said the antigraft agency’s forensic expert did not provide evidence that those signatures on the documents were that of Shamshudeen.
Dimgba concluded that the “burden of proof rests on the prosecution”, but it did not do proper investigation on its allegations.
The judge thereby discharged the defendant, ordering the EFCC to “immediately” return the monies they moved away from the governor’s son’s house.
Speaking to newsmen, Shittu said the trial court proceedings was just the first leg of the legal battle, implying the EFCC may proceed to the Court of Appeal and up to the Supreme Court, if need be.
Earlier, THE WHISTLER reported that the same court quashed the EFCC money laundering and procurement fraud case against Olajide Omokore, his company, Atlantic Energy Brass Development Ltd, Atlantic Energy Drilling Concept Limited, Victor Briggs ( former managing director, Nigerian Petroleum Development Company, NPDC, and Abiye Membere.
Justice Dimgba presided over the case in the morning.
The EFCC accused the defendants of perpetuating the fraud in respect of a Strategic Alliance Agreement with relevant oil companies to the tune of $1.6billion.
But the judge acquitted the business mogul while convicting Briggs and Membere for collecting exotic cars from the first defendant while serving as public officials.