The Court of Appeal, Abuja Division, has discharged and acquitted former Group Managing Director of Transcorp Plc, Mr. Tom Iseghohi, of money laundering charges.In a unanimous decision, the court also set aside the decision of the Federal High Court in Abuja dated October 20, 2014, which over-ruled his no-case submission.
The court further dismissed entirely the 32-count criminal charge of money laundering filed against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).The anti-graft commission had arraigned Isoghohi, the former Company Secretary, Mohammed Buba and Deputy General Manager, Mike Okoli, in 2009.
They were tried for fraud and money laundering in connection with the botched acquisition of the Nigerian Telecommunications (NITEL) by Transcorp.Trial began before Justice D.U. Okorowo before it was transferred to Justice Evoh Chukwu.
Consequently, the defendants’ counsel, A. Ozioko, John Egwuonwu and Sunny Tadi, filed a no-case submission, urging the court to dismiss the charge because it established no prima facie case against them.
They argued that the prosecution had failed to make out a prima facie case against the accused persons to warrant their being called to enter a defence.He, therefore, urged the court to dismiss the charges and acquit the accused persons.
Responding, prosecution counsel, Sylvester Ogbedu, urged the court to ignore the defence’s arguments and hold that the prosecution has sufficiently proved its case against the accused persons.
After listening to their arguments, Justice Chukwu in his ruling, dismissed the no-case argument, holding that the accused persons had cases to answer.But the Court of Appeal in setting aside the decision of the Federal High Court held that from the evidence adduced by the prosecution at the trial, there was no basis for the refusal of the no-case submission.
It ruled that no evidence was adduced to establish the offence of money laundering against Isoghohi and subsequently discharged and acquitted him of all 32 counts of N15 billion money laundering charge levelled against him.
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