By Edith Nwapi
An FCT High Court, Maitama, on Tuesday discharged Steve Oronsaye, former Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, of the N190 million corruption charges levelled against him.
Oronsaye was also the Chairman, Presidential Committee on Financial Action Task Force, set up by former President Goodluck Jonathan.
He was docked on a seven-count charge, bordering on breach of trust and diversion of N190 million meant for the committee he chaired.
Justice Olasumbo Goodluck, in her ruling on the no-case submission filed by Oronsaye, held that the prosecution failed to establish a prima facie case against Oronsaye.
“There was contradictory evidence by the prosecution witnesses on whether the defendant was still the head of service as at the time he chaired the committee.
“The court seems to discredit the evidence, suffice it to say that there is no evidence linking the accused with the statutory element and ingredients of the offence with which he is charged.
“The court of trial must as a matter of law discharge him because it has no business scanting for evidence that is nowhere to be found.
“ I have looked through the case and I am unable to see any justifications for this case.
“ The defendant is hereby discharged“ she held.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalled that the prosecution closed its case on Nov.15 after calling six witnesses to testify.
On Dec. 9, the defence filed no-case submission, on the ground that the prosecution had no case against the defendant.
In his submission, the defence counsel Chief Kanu Agabi (SAN), argued that there were omissions of essential elements in the charges against his client.
He said on that account the charges were imperfect.
Agabi said that the charge was initially 2- count, later amended to 7-count.
He said that, that was a sign that something was wrong with the charge from the beginning.
He said that the prosecution did not specify the amount that was entrusted to the defendant, nor the mandate of the committee the defendant chaired.
Agabi also said that no evidence of personal use of the fund that the defendant was accused of misusing, but mere allegations.
He said that no offence proven by prosecution to warrant the defendant to enter defence and urged the court to grant his no-case submission.
Responding, the prosecuting counsel, Mr Offem Uket, told the court that the prosecution has proved its case, adding that the defendant should enter his defence.
Uket said that it was not right to bring up the issue of imperfection of charges now, as it was against the provisions of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, (ACJA) 2015.
He urged the court to dismiss the no- case submission.