12 December 2012

Nigeria: N4 Billion Fraud - Ex-Kogi Gov Evades EFCC's Arrest

Operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), yesterday failed to arrest the former governor of Kogi State, Abubakar Audu, as the ex-governor fled his 32 Suleiman Barau Street, Asokoro residence in Abuja, before their arrival.

According to a statement from the spokesman of the commission, Wilson Uwujaren, the attempted arrest of the former governor who is being tried for fraudulently enriching himself to the tune of over N4 billion while he was governor of Kogi State between 1999 and 2003, followed a Supreme Court ruling of November 23, 2012, which dismissed his appeal meant to stall his corruption trial by EFCC.

The Supreme Court ruling therefore clears the way for his fresh arraignment.

Recalled that Audu was arrested in Jos in 2006 after a six-month manhunt by operatives of the commission, before his earlier arraignment at the Kogi State High Court on December 1, 2006, on an 80-count charge of criminal conspiracy, fraud, breach of trust and embezzlement of public fund.

The EFCC had, while the case lasted at the high court, cause issuance of nolle prosequi by the former Attorney- General of Kogi State, Dr. John Alewo Agbonika and the Attorney General of the Federation, Chief Bayo Ojo, on February 8, 2007 for the case to be discontinued at the Kogi State High Court as the commission claimed to have lost faith in the handling of the matter by the state High Court.

But rather than discontinue the matter in the spirit of the nolle prosequi, the trial judge, Justice Medupin, went ahead to refer two questions to the Court of Appeal for determination.

In a judgment delivered by Justice Bode Rhodes-Vivour, the Supreme Court held that the Court of Appeal was wrong to consider the questions referred to it for determination after being aware from the records of appeal that a nolle prosequi had been filed.

Part of the setback suffered by the commission in the prosecution of the case was the filing of several applications by the defendant for stay of proceedings at the High Court pending the final determination of the appeal.

Audu had on December 12, 2011, through his lead counsel, Mike Ozekhome (SAN), filed a stay of proceedings supported by 11-paragraph affidavit.

This was 26 clear days after the Supreme Court on November 16, 2011, struck out a similar application he filed on January 24, 2011.

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