EFCC loses bid to convict two NATFORCE leaders

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The Federal High Court sitting in Enugu has discharged and acquitted two officers of the National Task Force to combat illegal importation, smuggling of goods, small arms, ammunition and light-weapons, (NATFORCE) for an alleged fraud and conspiracy.

The two officers, Obinna Cyril Onyekwelu and Emmanuel Ngwu were arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission before Justice Dorothy V. Agishi of Court Two on three counts of conspiracy, fraud and obtaining the sum of N1,467,000 from 463 Nigerians for employment under false pretence, contrary to advance fee fraud and other related offences Act, 2006.

But delivering judgment in the case with Suit No: FHC/EN/CR/30/2013, the trial judge, Agisha lashed at the antigraft agency for prosecuting the accused persons, when the Federal High Court in Abuja had earlier declared that NATFORCE was a legitimate organisation.

The court held that it is against the spirit of good sportsmanship for EFCC to have initiated such charges against the officers of an organisation legally created by the Federal Government that also created it.

“Come to think of it, the complainant in this matter is the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the EFCC which investigated this matter is an agent of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. It is therefore my belief that EFCC had occasion to come across this judgment earlier than today but they did not do anything by way of appeal. They also had the choice to have withdrawn this action in the spirit of good sportsmanship. It is rather unfortunate that they have decided to prosecute this matter to the end in spite of these overwhelming facts.

“From the forgoing facts, it is my opinion that the defendants have not committed the criminal charges as envisaged in the three counts against them. It is deemed that all the activities carried out by them in the course of their exercise to employ people were legally carried out.

“The prosecution having failed to prove the guilt of the accused persons beyond reasonable doubt, the accused persons are hereby discharged and acquitted.”(Punch)

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