EFCC withdraws N4.5bn pension charges against 40 suspects
Economic and Financial Crimes Commission on Tuesday withdrew charges it filed in 2011 against a former Director, Pension Administration, in the Office of Head of Service of the Federation, Dr. Sani Teidi, and 39 others.
The withdrawn charge was dated July 26, 2011.
The presiding judge, Justice Adamu Bello, granted an oral application made by EFCC lawyer, Chief Godwin Obla, for the withdrawal of the charge.
Justice Bello admitted that under the Criminal Procedure Act, the prosecution had the right to withdraw charges at any point in time.
Ruling on the matter, Justice Bello said, 'Having listened to the arguments canvassed by counsel for the 1st accused person and supported by the lawyers of the other accused persons, I agree with the prosecution counsel that objection to the oral application is not merited.
'The accused persons are therefore discharged.'
He averred that the withdrawal of the initial charge and the filing of new, separate charges did not constitute a breach of the court process, as argued by the defence counsel.
Justice Bello wondered why the defence counsel should oppose the application for the withdrawal of the charge even after they were duly informed and had accepted the procedure at the last sitting on the matter on March 14, 2003.
The judge said he could not determine the defence counsel's plea that the accused persons should continue to enjoy the bail earlier granted them by the court.
'I cannot grant the plea for the accused persons to continue enjoying bail because there is no suit involving the accused persons before me,' Justice Bello said.
Obla after the court session said the EFCC decided to separate the charge into seven different suits in a bid to ensure good case management.
He said the new, separate suits had been filed at the FHC, noting that very soon, judges would be assigned to handle them.
In the new cases, a 22-count charge was brought against Teidi; a 12-count charge was filed against Phina Chidi and 10 others; Mohammed Ahmed Katun and Garba Abdullahi Tahir will face one-count charges, respectively; Abdul Mohammed and three others will face a three-count charge while a two-count charge was filed against Emmanuel Olanipekun and four others.
The EFCC had alleged that the accused persons stole pension funds amounting to N4.56bn.