How Buhari traded Goje’s N5bn corruption trial for Lawan’s Senate Presidency

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The negotiations and overtures made in mobilizing support for the election the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, has continued to raised dust over certain issues of compromising the corruption war of President Muhammadu Buhari on the alter political convenience.

National Daily inquiry found that several stakeholders in the country have been raising disquieting notes over the meeting President Buhari held at the State House, Abuja, with Senator Danjuma Goje, former Governor of Gombe State who has been facing prosecution by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over allegations of N5 billion improprieties. The turn of events after the meeting culminating into a sort of soft landing for the former Gombe Governor who at the meeting with President Buhari announced his was stepping down for Lawan in the Senate President race, has been a source concerns among stakeholders in the country, some have expressed concerns that the meeting at the Presidential villa, the EFCC surrendered the case to the Office of the Attorney general of the Federation.

Reports indicated that after 29 days of the meeting, the federal government withdrew the case against Goje, while a Federal High Court in Jos, Plateau State, subsequently, threw away the outstanding two count charges against Senator Goje corruption allegation.
National Daily learned that the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation had applied on Thursday evening for the withdrawal of the charges, News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) had reported on Friday.

The EFCC had filed a 21-count charge against Goje in 2011, but 19 of the charges were struck out in March 2019, leaving only two counts.

The presiding judge, Justice Babatunde Quadri, in a judgment on the “no-case” submission filed by Goje on September 14, 2018, discharged the former governor and other defendants on 19 of the 21 counts. The Judge held that the defendants had a case to answer on counts eight and nine and ruled that they should open their defence on May 8, 2019.

Sen. Goje

Goje was standing trial along with a former Executive Chairman of the state’s Universal Basic Education Board, Aliyu El-Nafaty; and S.M. Dokoro on allegation of N5 billion misappropriation.

A fourth defendant, the ex-governor’s cousin, Sabo Tumu, who is now late was removed from the charge sheet.

National Daily recalls that EFCC surrendered that the case to the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation on June 7, immediately after the Senator had with the President which was facilitated by Governor Nasir El-Rufai where Goje stepped down for Ahmed Lawan in the Senate President race.

At the resumed sitting of the court, the counsel to the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation, Pius Akutah, stated: “My Lord, we have an application having taken over the case and reviewed the 21 count charges of no submission and by the ruling of this court quashed 19 leaving only two count charges in which they are to enter defence.

“As it is, the Federal Ministry of Justice wishes to withdraw those two charges against the accused persons. This action is in line with the power vested in the AGF by virtue of Section 128 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015 particularly sub section 1 of that section (128).

“It’s in accordance with the power vested in the AGF by the constitution that we wish to withdraw the charges before your Lordship. This is our humble application and (we) urge your Lordship to grant our application.”

The counsel to Goje, Adeniyi Akintola (SAN), did not oppose the application. “My Lord, we are not opposing the application but we are urging your Lordship to evoke the provision of section 2(a)(b) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015 and acquit them of the charges.

“The same section gives your Lordship the discretionary power to make an order for the accused persons to be discharged and acquitted. My Lord has the power under Section III.

“As we urge your Lordship to consider our humble application, we wish to thank you for your patience with us since 2011 when we started this journey on the case. We also wish to commend the AGF for (the) wise decision in bringing this case to an end,” he had said

Reports indicated thatJustice Quadri,had in his judegment declared: “pursuant to Section 174(1), particularly, sub-section (b) and coupled with Section 108 (2) of 2015, “the application by the AGF to withdraw the charges is hereby granted.”
hem therefore, declared the accused persons discharged.

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