N3BN FRAUD: COURT DISCHARGES EX-NERC COMMISSIONERS
AN Abuja High Court on Thursday discharged former seven Commissioners of the Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission.
The development was sequel to the Federal Government's withdrawal of criminal charges levelled against the ex-commissioners just as Justice Salisu Garba discharged the NERC officials.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission had arraigned the ex-officials on April 22, 2009 on a 197-court charge of alleged criminal breach of trust and embezzlement of N3bn.
The commissioners are the former NERC Chairman, Ransome Owan; Vice-Chairman, Abdul-Rahman Ado; Commissioner in charge of Finance and Support Services,Muhammed Bunu; Commissioner in charge of Legal, Licensing and Enforcement, Muhammed Abdu-Razaq; Commissioner in charge of Research and Development, Onwuameze Iloeje; Commissioner in charge of Government and Consumer Affairs, Grace Eyoma, and Commissioner in charge of Engineering Standards and Safety, Abimbola Odubiyi.
A lawyer from the chambers of the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. E.C. Okpe, had moved the application to withdraw the charge when he informed the court that, 'We are under the instruction of the AGF to withdraw the charges against the accused persons.
'I hereby apply that the charges against the accused persons be terminated.'
Lawyer to the accused persons, Mrs. Anayo Offiah (SAN) and Dr. Tunji Abayomi, commended the AGF for withdrawing the charge.
They, however, asked the court to dismiss the charge and also compel the EFCC to release the documents and monies seized from their clients.
In his short ruling, Justice Garba said, 'The charges against the accused persons are hereby terminated.'
The judge, however, refused to make an order compelling the EFCC to release to the accused persons the monies and documents seized from them.
The judge, however, advised the ex-officials to apply directly to the NERC for the release of the documents and money.
But he issued a caveat saying that, 'If the commission does not release the documents, you can then apply to me for an order to compel it to release the documents.'
The accused persons had applied to the court for the release of their title documents which were collected from them when they were granted administrative bail by the EFCC.