The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Sunday revealed why the commission withdrew from the alleged N25 billion fraud filed against former Gombe State Governor, Danjuma Goje by the commission.
According to the anti-graft agency, the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation which has the constitutional power to take over any criminal case at any stage of the investigation has taken over this particular one.
This was made known by Tony Orilade, the spokesman of the commission, in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Sunday.
Mr. Orilade said that the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation has taken over the case, “and that is exactly what has happened”.
Senator Goje (APC-Gombe Central) until last week, before his meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari, Kaduna state governor, Nasir el-Rufai and Ahmad Lawan (APC-Yobe) was a contender for the post of the President of the Senate with the latter.
He reportedly withdrew from the race after the meeting.
Section 174 (1a) of the 1999 Constitution States that the Attorney-General of the Federation shall have the power “To institute and undertake criminal proceedings against any person before any court of law in Nigeria, other than a court-martial, in respect of any offence created by or under any Act of the National Assembly.”
While subsection (1b) says “to take over and continue any such proceedings that may have been instituted by any other authority or person”.
According to NAN, the EFCC had been prosecuting the former governor for 8 years until Friday, June 7.
The case was also reported before Justice Babatunde Quadiri of Jos Federal High Court II, and had even gone to the Jos Court of Appeal over the remaining two count charges out of 21 filed against him by EFCC.
However, when the case came up for an emergency hearing before Justice Quadiri, Wahab Shittu, the counsel to the anti-graft agency told the court that it was withdrawing from the case and handing it over the office of the Attorney-General for continuation.
“My Lord, this case was earlier adjourned for June 20 for the continuation of hearing, but then we are here today on the latest development on the matter.
“We as EFCC counsels are withdrawing from the matter and handing it over to the office of the Attorney-General for continuation with the prosecution.
“As you can see, in Court is a State Counsel from the AGF’s office to formally take over this case from us,” Shittu declared.
NAN reports that Paul Erokoro (SAN), did not object to the EFCC withdrawal and handing over of the case to the Attorney-General.
“My Lord we are not objecting to the anti-graft withdrawal and handing over the prosecution to the AG’s office,” Mr Erokoro said.
Pius Asika, counsel from the office of the attorney general, however, announced his appearance for the case and applied for an adjournment to enable him to prepare for the case proper “having come into the matter.