By Abdullateef Jos
A High Court of the Federal Capital Territory sitting at Maitama, on Tuesday, discharged and acquitted the suspended Director General of the Security and Exchange Commission, SEC, Mounir Gwarzo.
The court, in a ruling that was delivered by Justice Husseini Baba-Yusuf, dismissed a five-count charge the Independent and Corrupt Practices and Other Related Commission, ICPC, preferred against the SEC boss and the Executive Commissioner, Corporate Services at the establishment, Zakawaru Garuba.
The duo were in the charge marked CR/185/18, accused of misappropriating public funds to the tune of about N115million.
ICPC told the court that the defendants committed the offence in June 2015.
Specifically, the anti-graft agency alleged that Gwarzo pocketed over N104.8m as severance benefit, less than a month after he was appointed.
He was equally accused of receiving over N10m as a car grant, contrary to Section 19 of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2000.
ICPC maintained that the 2nd defendant was involved in the fraud by conferring a corrupt advantage on another public officer.
He was said to have approved the payments that were made to the suspended SEC boss. However, the court upheld a no-case-submission the Defendants filed with respect to all the allegations against them.
Justice Baba-Yusuf said he was satisfied that the totality of the proof of evidence that was not enough to establish a prima-facie case that would require the court to compel the Defendants to enter their defence to the charge. He held that ICPC failed to prove any of the essential elements of the offence against the Defendants.
According to the court, evidence that was adduced by the ICPC were not only contradictory, but were manifestly discredited to the extent that no reasonable court or tribunal could rely on it to convict the Defendants.
“The 1st Defendant is hereby discharged and acquitted of counts 1, 2 and 3 and by inference, all the charge against him”, the trial Judge held, even as he also acquitted the 2nd Defendant of the two counts against him.
The court had on May 6, 2018, granted the Defendants bail in the sum of N25m each and a surety each in like sum, shortly after they pleaded not guilty to the charge.
It will be recalled that Gwarzo was in November 2017, suspended by the Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun for alleged financial recklessness.
Some of the allegations against the Defendants read, “That you, Mounir Gwarzo, on or about June 2015, while being the Director-General of the Securities and Exchange Commission, received the sum of N104,851,154.94 as severance benefits when you had yet to retire, resign or disengage from the service of SEC; conferred a corrupt advantage upon yourself and committed an offence under Section 19 of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act 2000.
“That you committed a criminal breach of trust to wit: dishonestly misappropriated the sum of N104,851,154.94 as your severance benefit contrary to Section 311 and punishable under Section 312 of the Penal Code Cap 532 Vol 4 of FCT Abuja 2007. “That you conferred a corrupt advantage upon yourself when you received the sum of N10,983,488.88 in excess of car grant payable to you and thereby committed an offence contrary to and punishable under Section 19 of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act.”