Reprieve yesterday came the way of former chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Nuhu Ribadu14 months after the trial began, as the Federal Government withdrew the charges against him concerning assets declaration.
Office of Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) represented by the Special Assistant on Litigation Dr. J.O. Olatoke yesterday applied to the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) for withdrawal of the case of non-declaration of assets instituted against Ribadu.
A statement from the Head, Press and Public Relations Unit of the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB), Mrs. Idowu Jokpeyibo said Olatoke moved the application at the tribunal sitting.
Ribadu was accused of failure to declare his asset as required of a public servant while in office.
Olatoke stated that his application for withdrawal of the case had nothing to do with a new application the defence counsel intended to submit for CCT to strike out the case.
Ribadu is being represented by Lagos lawyer and President of the West African Bar Association (WABA), Mr. Femi Falana.
Falana who was represented by Mr. Samuel Ogala at yesterday’s proceedings had earlier told the Acting Chairman of the Tribunal, Justice Murtala A. Sani of his intention to submit an application to strike out the case against his client.
Ogalla’s application was rejected by Justice Sani based on the fact that the Tribunal had no substantive chairman and therefore could not take a new motion but can only attend to non-controversial matters.
Justice Sani then advised the prosecuting counsel, Dr. Olatoke to bring a formal application for withdrawal to the tribunal for proper documentation at its next sitting on Thursday April 8, 2010.
Olatoke gave a clue as to why the case was being withdrawn: “Before the dissolution of the cabinet, the Former Attorney-General of the Federation, Prince Adetokunbo Kayode reviewed the cases on ground and directed that this case should be withdrawn”.
He said the constitution vested on AGF the power of Nolle Prosequi to discontinue any criminal prosecution at any stage of the case and that it is within the prerogative of AGF under the constitution to decide the case(s) he wants to prosecute.
Ribadu had on Monday filed a notice of discontinuous against the CCT and the police in a suit where he had gone to challenge the powers of the tribunal to issue an arrest warrant against him for failure to appear before it to answer the allegations against him.
The then Justice Constance Momoh-led three man tribunal had on November 20 ordered the police to arrest Ribadu and detain him in their custody for his refusal to honour earlier invitations.
On December 4, the tribunal renewed the warrant before adjourning till January 7.
Acting on the order, the Inspector General of Police, Ogbonna Onovo requested the Interpol to arrest Ribadu and bring him to Nigeria.
But Ribadu through his counsel, Falana maintained that the tribunal has no power whatsoever to issue warrant for his arrest.
In the suit before Justice Garuba Umar of the Federal High Court, Abuja, he is also contending that the police cannot execute the order because no extradition proceedings had been filed against him.
The motion was brought pursuant to Order 4 Rule 3 of the Fundamental Enforcement Procedure Rules 2009 as preserved by Section 315 of the 1999 Constitution.
In an Affidavit deposed to in support by Samuel Ogala, a lawyer in the Falana and Falana’s Chambers, he averred that the prosecution witnesses are officials of the CCT which is an agency of The Presidency.
“The Attorney General of the Federation who is prosecuting the case is a serving minister appointed by the Presidency”.
Besides, he pointed out that “no extradition proceedings have been filed against the Applicant in any court in Nigeria by the A-GF.
“The 1st respondent (CCT) has no power whatsoever to order the arrest of the Applicant as he is not within the jurisdiction of Nigeria.
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