Court dismisses EFCC’s N7.74bn fraud charges against Kenny Martins, others

A High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) in Abuja has again dismissed the N7.74bn fraud charges brought against a Lagos businessman, Kenny Martins and three others by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

The fraud charges initiated against the Socialite and co-defendants in 2018 were thrown out on Tuesday by Justice Modupe Osho-Adebiyi for being frivolous and without merit.

Delivering judgment in the 3-count charges prosecuted by the Chambers of Festus Keyamo, the Judge held that the prosecution failed in all ramifications to adduce cogent and verifiable evidence that the N7.74 billion naira was misappropriated as alleged in the charges.

Among others, the Court held that the EFCC failed to establish how the N774M and another N50M retained by the defendants as their 10 percent commission from the money generated through the Police Equipment Foundation (PEF) for Police amounted to fraud in the face of a clear Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to the effect by the federal government.

The Judge also held that the anti-graft agency did not establish how the removal of the ten percent commission from one of the bank accounts of the Police Equipment Foundation amounted to a breach of trust when there was no specific order in the MoU on which of the accounts the commission should be deducted.

The EFCC through its counsel, John Anieto had put Kenny Martins, Ibrahim Dumuje, Yero Gella and Nigerstalg on trial on 3-counts bothering including conspiracy, criminal breach of trust, criminal diversion of N7.74bn to personal use and forgery of documents.

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The defendants, however, denied the charges which led to a full-blown trial during which EFCC called four witnesses to establish its fraud allegations and also tendered various documents as exhibits.

But the defendants through their lawyers, Joel Bankole Akomolafe SAN and Johnny Ucheaga
narrated how they initiated the Police Equipment Fund which transformed into the Police Equipment Foundation and a MoU freely entered with the federal government on how to raise an initial N100bn donation to equip police for effective performance.

Akomolafe SAN on behalf of his clients also narrated how several billions of naira were raised through the efforts of the defendants and how the generated fund was used to purchase several hundreds of vehicles from Coscharis Motors based on government directives.

The senior lawyer also listed how the vehicles were distributed to the Police, Nigerian Army, Civil Defence, Customs, and costsEFCC among others at a public function in Abuja attended by the then Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Dr Goodluck Jonathan and top rank Security Chiefs.

He also tendered several letters of acknowledgement of the vehicles by the security agencies.

Akomolafe SAN thereafter pleaded with the court to dismiss the charges and award cost in favour of his clients.

In her judgment, Justice Osho-Adebiyi held that the prosecution failed to contradict the overwhelming evidence of how the donated money was expended by the defendants in line with the letters and spirit of the MoU.

To worsen its case, the Judge said that the prosecution did not call the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Chief of Army Staff and other beneficiaries of the vehicles either to confirm or deny the claim of the defendants.

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Besides, the Judge said none of the four witnesses of the prosecution pointed their testimony in the direction of fraud.

Justice Osho-Adebiyi upheld the submissions of the defendants that none of the parties involved in the setting up of the PEF and the donors wrote petitions or lodged complaints of any wrongdoing against the defendants other than the one by an anonymous group.

The Judge agreed with Akomolafe SAN that EFCC concealed the fact that the accounts of the Foundation were audited by a reputable account auditing firm and that a clean bill was issued out.

On the allegations by the prosecution that the life span of the MoU had expired at the time the N7.74bn was donated by the Association of Local Governments of Nigeria, (ALGON) and N774M removed as commission, the court held that the fact that the money was paid into PEF account had betrayed the allegations.

On another allegation that the vehicles were purchased and distributed after the expiration of the MOU, the Judge held that it was logical that the tenure of the document had been extended as the prosecution did not deny the public distribution of the vehicles and the attendance by the Vice President at the time it was done.

In all, the Judge upheld the submissions of the defendants that the EFCC intentionally criminalized civil matters on the grounds that they were not contradicted, controverted or challenged as required by law by the prosecution.

“Having considered the case of the prosecution and that of the defendants, I am of the firm opinion that the case of the prosecution is manifestly bad, unreliable and fell short of expectations.

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“Given the above, I hereby discharge and acquit the defendants from the charges against them”, the Judge said.

It will be recalled that Justice Abubakar Talba of the FCT High Court now elevated to the Court of Appeal had on November 24, 2009, upheld the “no case submission’ of the four defendants and discharged and acquitted them.

The Court of Appeal and Supreme Court, however, in their respective judgments delivered on June 28, 2012, and March 23, 2018, set aside the high court decision and ordered that the trial be conducted afresh.

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God'swill Ofigo
Nigeria Blogger / Social Media Promoter/ Talent Manager/ Entertainer/ CEO OfyNaija Blog. WhatsApp: 0904709861

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