By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
ABUJA — The Federal Government, yesterday, withdrew the nine-count corruption charge it slammed against three top officials of the Supreme Court accused of complicity in N2.2 billion fraud.
Those charged before an Abuja High Court at Jabi were the Chief Registrar of the court, Mr. Saleh Gambo; Deputy Director of Finance, Sharif Abdulrahman and Assistant Director of Finance, Rilwanu Lawal.
The defendants were specifically alleged to have diverted N2.2 billion belonging to the Supreme Court of Nigeria, into personal bank accounts domiciled at United Bank for Africa Plc with account number 2027642863.
It was alleged that they had between 2009 and 2016, received gratification in the sum of N10 million from Willysdave Ltd, a private contractor to the Supreme Court of Nigerian and thereby committed an offence contrary to section 10(a) (i) of the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Act 2000 and punishable under the same Act.
The defendants were to be arraigned, yesterday, when government lawyer, Mrs Hajara Yusuf, announced the withdrawal of the charges.
She said: “My lord this matter is for arraignment today, but I have been instructed to withdraw the charges.”
Government did not adduce any reason behind its decision to terminate further proceeding on the case.
In a bench ruling, trial Justice Abba-Bello Mohammed struck out the charge marked CR/13/16 and dated November 3, 2016.
Count one of the withdrawn charge against the apex court officials read: “STATEMENT OF OFFENCE
Conspiracy contrary to Section 96 of the Penal Code Act CAP 532 LFN (Abuja) 2004 punishable under Section 97 of the same Act.
PARTICULARS OF OFFENCE
AHMED GAMBO SALEH “M” MUHAMMED ABDULRAHMAN SHARIF ‘M’ and RILWANU LAWAL ‘M’, all of Supreme Court of Nigeria between 2009 and 2016 did agree to do an illegal act to wit: diverted the total sum of Two Billion, Two Hundred Million Naira (NGN2.2 Billion) belonging to the Supreme Court of Nigeria into personal bank accounts domiciled at United Bank For Africa PLC a/c no 2027642863, and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 96 of the Penal Code Act and punishable under Section 97 of the Penal Code Act Cap 532 LFN (Abuja) 2004″.
Salihu Isah, the spokesperson for the Attorney General, Abubakar Malami, said the decision to withdraw the matter, resulted from a plea bargain and information that had proven helpful for further investigation.
“You know that it is not out of place to withdraw a matter, even after it has been brought to court. The withdrawal is based on information provided during plea-bargain that has proven helpful for the investigation of other judges under examination,” said Mr. Salihu.