Court orders anti – graft agency to return N228 million to APC guber candidate, others

A Federal High Court sitting in Jalingo on Wednesday ordered the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, to refund N228m it forcefully collected from the APC governorship candidate, Sani Danladi, Senator Joel Ikenya and ex-Speaker of Taraba State House of Assembly, Mark Useni.

The order must be complied with within 72 hours, the court ruled.

The EFCC had charged Danladi along with Joel Ikenya and Mark Useni to Court, for conspiracy and violation of financial regulations. They were alleged to have collected the said sum as part of monetary inducement, to influence the outcome of the 2015 general election.

Justice Stephen Pam delivered the judgment in a case filed by the EFCC against Ikenya, Useni and Danladi. He asserted that the EFCC could not provide the court with substantive evidence against the defendants and urged the Commission to desist from infringing on the rights of innocent citizens.

“The prosecution did not provide this court with concrete evidence to nail the defendants.

“The EFCC is hereby ordered to refund the sum of N228m which the Commission received from the defendants,” the judgment reads.

Senator Ikenya applauded the court for allowing the rule of law to prevail in the matter, describing the court as the last hope of common man.

“The entire charges were an abuse of court process. By this ruling, the EFCC should learn to allow the rule of law to prevail,” he said.

In a statement released by the EFCC through its acting spokesperson, Tony Orilade, the anti-graft agency expressed displeasure with Justice Pam’s ruling and promised to appeal the decision.

“The decision of Justice Pam that the charges against Danladi, and the others “lacked merit”, is indeed, worrisome and tragic.

“The Commission has therefore resolved to appeal the ruling because the EFCC believes that the judgment is a travesty of justice,” the statement reads.

Amos Abba is a journalist with the International Center for Investigative Reporting, ICIR, who believes that courageous investigative reporting is the key to social justice and accountability in the society.

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