The Court of Appeal, Abuja, has set aside the judgment of a lower court barring the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission from initiating civil or criminal proceedings against a former Accountant General of the Federation, Jonah Otunla.
According to the EFCC, a three-member panel of the Court of Appeal, in its judgment marked CA/A/657/2021, on Monday, January 30, 2023, held that Otunla failed to prove that he was not really there. Plea agreement between him and EFCC.
The spokesperson of the anti-graft agency, Wilson Uwujaren, disclosed this in a statement obtained by our correspondent on Wednesday night.
Uwujaren noted that the court accepted the arguments of EFCC counsel Sylvanus Tahir and resolved the four issues set out for decision in favor of the commission.
He said: “Justice Danlami Senchi, who read the judgement, noted that Otunla had given no written undertaking, except his words and those of his lawyer, that such an agreement existed.
“Justice Senchi said that Otunla could not stop his prosecution by claiming that there was an agreement, the existence of which he did not establish with credible evidence. “In the present case, there is no evidence to support the allegation of the defendant (Otunla) that they will not stand trial; that it is not against him any criminal or civil proceedings commenced or commenced There are no pleadings or documentation relating to the President’s Fund Recovery Committee.
“In general, the appeal is meritorious and is accepted. The judgment of the High Court of the Federal Court in case number: FHC/ABJ/CS/2321/2021 delivered on the 16th day of July, 2021 by the Honorable Justice IE Ekwo is hereby set aside.
He noted that other members of the bench – Justices Stephen Adah and Elfreda Williams-Daudu – agreed with the main judgement.
According to Uwujaren, the EFCC investigated Otunla on two cases; Alleged embezzlement of about N24billion intended for employees of the defunct Power Holding Company of Nigeria and N2billion allegedly received from the office of the National Security Adviser.
He added that Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court, Abuja, in a judgment dated July 16, 2021, confirmed that Otunla’s claim of a verbal agreement between him and the then EFCC chairman, Ibrahim Magu, would not stand trial. reimburses the federal government.
Uwujaren said: “Justice Ekwo, in his 2021 ruling on the case, marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/2321/2021 filed by Otunla, among others, in view of the assurance given to him by Magu, he informed him. return the money, 2011 and He could not be prosecuted for his actions during his tenure in office until 2015. Otunla, in an affidavit, said Magu promised him that he would not prosecute him if he returned the funds to him and the companies linked to him and his associates.
“He stated that he was invited by a team of EFCC investigators in 2015 to look into the alleged diversion of funds from the office of the ONSA and the Nigerian Power Holding Company pension funds. Otunla said he later met with Magu during the investigation when the then EFCC chairman personally told him “to return the money related to your companies and nobody He won’t judge you.”
“He said that based on Magu’s promise, he had a reconciliation meeting with the investigative team where he immediately pledged to make some money available as restitution.
“In line with the agreement, Otunla said one of the companies associated with him – Stellar Vera Development Ltd, refunded N750 million, another company – Damaris Mode Coolture Ltd, refunded N550 million, and the two companies later refunded N2.150 million while they did more consolidation.
“He added that at one point, he raised several manager’s checks for N10 million in favor of the EFCC and handed them over to the Economic Governance Section. Otunla said that in total he made a refund of N6.392 billion to the Federation Account through the EFCC.”