The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC on Tuesday asked the Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal to set aside the July 4 ruling of Justice Adamu Bello of the Federal High Court, Abuja discharging Dr. Hassan Muhammed Lawal, former Minister of Works and Adesanya Adewale, his alleged accomplice, of the 8-count charge of money laundering filed against them by the Commission.
Justice Bello had discharged the duo based on a no case submission by the accused persons.
In the notice of appeal filed before the appellate court, EFCC is seeking a review of the ruling of the lower court on two grounds: One, that the trial judge erred in law and acted without jurisdiction thereby occasioning a gross miscarriage of justice when he failed to deliver the ruling, the subject matter of the appeal, within the period of ninety (90) days prescribed by constitutional provisions; second, that the trial court erred by upholding and granting the 1st and 2nd respondents application for a no case submission in spite of the evidential materials, oral and documentary, before the court.
According to Wahab Shittu, counsel to the EFCC, the ruling was a miscarriage of justice as it was given two hundred and eight days after EFCC had adopted its final written address on the ‘No Case Submission’ of the defence.
He stated that owing to the delay, the trial court has lost touch with the trend of evidence and the demeanour of witnesses and parties to the proceedings.
He added that the prosecution had placed sufficient material before the court to warrant explanation from the 1st and 2nd respondents, adding that the evidence presented by the prosecution was neither discredited as a result of cross-examination nor manifestly unreliable in the circumstances to warrant the discharge of the accused.
Furthermore the anti- graft agency holds that it was premature at the stage of trial for the Judge to determine if evidence was sufficient to justify a conviction.
Finally, EFCC submitted that the trial judge erred in holding that the prosecution did not prove that the funds held by the 1st respondents, and by implication the 2nd respondent did not proceed from an illegal act. “This means that the trial judge did not direct his mind to the fact that the language of Section 14 and 17 of the Money Laundering Act to wit…. ‘derived directly or indirectly’ envisages the utility value of direct and indirect evidence including circumstantial evidence on the offence alleged against the 1st and 2nd respondents”, Shittu stated.