Court frees Jonathan’s ex-Minister of money laundering charge

Written by on March 28, 2022

A Federal High Court in Abuja on Monday set free a former Minister of Special Duties in the Goodluck Jonathan-administration, Kabir Tanimu Turaki, charged with money laundering.

Justice Inyang Ekwo, in a judgment on Monday, quashed the 16-count charge on the grounds that the trial of the defendants in the charge was not only illegal but unconstitutional.

Justice Ekwo held that it was unlawful for the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to neglect to give effect to a letter by the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), requesting that the case file be submitted to his office for review.

The judge further held that by the provision of the Constitution and the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) 2015, the AGF, as the Chief Law Officer of the Federation, has inherent powers to review any criminal charge, take over the trial and even terminate the trial as his office may deem fit.

The judge held that EFCC erred “by ignoring and neglecting” the AGF’s letter of April 4, 2020 with which he requested for the case file for review in order to avoid malicious prosecution.

Justice Ekwo noted that any law enforcement agency that ignores or neglects the directive of the AGF does so at its own peril.

The judge proceeded to invoke sections 105 of ACJA and 21, 23 of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act 2012 and 174 of the 1999 Constitution to declare the trial unlawful, illegal and null and void and struck out the charge.

The ex-Minister was arraigned on May 4, 2020 with three others on the 16-count charge.

Turaki, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, (SAN) served as the Minister for Special Duties and Inter-Governmental Affairs from 2013 to 2015.

He was also the Supervising Minister of Labour from 2014 to 2015.

Arraigned with him, on charge filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) are his former Special Assistant, Sampson Okpetu and two firms allegedly owned by Okpetu – Samtee Essentials Limited and Pasco Investment Limited.

EFCC alleged, in the charge marked: FHC/ABJ/CR/61/2020, that Turaki used the two companies belonging to his aide, to illegally siphon public funds estimated at N714, 670, 014.87.

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