17 April 2019

Nigeria: ICPC to Appeal Ruling That Freed Suspended SEC-DG Gwarzo

The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) has said it would appeal the ruling on the 'No Case Submission' in the trial of the suspended Director-General of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Mounir Gwarzo. Mr Gwarzo and the Executive Commissioner, Corporate Services of SEC, Zakawanu Garuba, were tried by the ICPC.

The duo was arraigned in June 2018 before Justice Husseini Baba Yusuf of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court on a five-count charge bordering on fraud to the tune of about N115 million when Mr Gwarzo was the DG-SEC.

The former Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, suspended Messrs Gwarzo and Garba from their positions in November 2017 over allegations of corruption.

The minister then set up a panel to investigate the alleged issues, after which the ICPC arraigned them in court.

In a statement signed by its spokesperson, Rasheedat Okoduwa, on Wednesday, ICPC alleged that Mr Gwarzo received N104.9 million as severance benefits and N10 million excess car grant which he was not entitled to and therefore committed a breach of trust and conferred a corrupt advantage upon himself.

"Garba was accused of allegedly conniving with Gwarzo to commit the fraud because he approved the monies for him as an Executive Commissioner, Corporate Services in SEC then.

"The defence counsel A.U.Mustapha (SAN) and Robert Emupkoeruo filed for a No Case Submission after the prosecuting counsel had brought forward their witnesses. The defence urged the court to hold that the prosecution was unable to prove the case against their client.

Mrs Okoduwa, in the statement, explained that the court then upheld the No Case Submission of the defendants "because the prosecution had failed to prove the elements of the offence".

It said the Board of SEC was the highest authority in the SEC and had by resolution approved the severance benefit and the car grant.

"The court finally discharged and acquitted the defendants on all the charges against them."

'Not satisfied'

She said the ICPC is dissatisfied with the judgment because the board resolution the trial judge relied on did not decide severance benefit "but retirement and resignation benefit".

She said, "the Notice of Appeal will be filed very soon."

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