A former Head of Service of the Federation, Steve Oronsaye has urged the court to dismiss the charges against him in a case of N190m fraud slammed on him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
This is as he has filed a no-case submission before Justice Olasumbo Goodluck of a High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), sitting at Maitama.
Oronsaye is standing trial in a seven-count charge of alleged criminal breach of trust in the diversion of N190m public funds to personal use.
Counsel to Oronsanye, Kanu Agabi (SAN), in his no-case submission against the charges brought against the defendant by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), faulted each of the seven-count, stating that it does not meet requirements of law.
Agabi, in his contention, said essential elements required by statutes had not been included and where they meant the requirements were not proven.
Citing Section 311 of the Penal Code, he said the main essence of charge in an offence and the essence of trial in a court of law is clarifying, whereas, omission or failure to clarify is fatal.
Through his counsel, Agabi, Oronsanye in the motion filed on December 9, 2016 further contended that evidence so far adduced in the charges against him by the prosecution, as of the time it closed its case, did not link him to the offence.
Agabi insisted that the defendant was in the charge said to have acted dishonestly along with others being charged with criminal breach of trust where monies were alleged to have been entrusted to him as Chairman of a committee, however, evidence revealed that the said monies were paid to the committee, not the individual.
He added that it is one thing to say that monies paid were not used to fulfill the mandate of the committee and another thing to say that monies were paid to the defendantAgabi argued that there is no evidence of personal use as the defendant had been charged in count one where he was alleged to have converted monies to personal use through investments in Access Bank.
He said it is mere allegation because Prosecution Witness Two and Six (PW2, PW6), who were witnesses of the prosecution had testified that proceeds from the Access Bank investment went back into the account of the committee.
The defence counsel also said that the ‘extant financial regulations’ in the charge does not constitute an offence as the financial regulations were not specified and does not explain anything as much as it does not constitute an offence as argued in Bode George vs. Federal Government of Nigeria.
Further in his contention, Agabi referred the court to count 5, 6 and 7 which alleged that while the defendant was Chairman of the committee, he was entrusted with ‘sums of monies’. He alleged speculation on the ‘amounts’ as referred in the charge was vague and unspecified.
He argued that the essential element of the offence in S311 is that the accused is given dominion, however, the charge does indicate the defendant was given dominion as Section 311 of the Penal Code provides for.
He added that, “the charge is not only an imperfect or erroneous charge, it is not a charge. In Alabi vs. State, the Supreme Court said before it can be said that a case has been proven beyond doubt, every ingredient must be established”.
In the prosecution’s response dated February 3, 2017 and filed February 7, 2017 to the no-case submission, counsel Uffem Uket insisted that the prosecution has proven its case beyond doubt and the complainant has enough evidence to warrant the accused to enter defense.
He argued that the contention of the defence on the word ‘dominion’ is resolved with their term ‘entrusted with’ in the charge with which ‘dominion’ was substituted.
He added that by virtue of S220 and S221, of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA), the defense cannot raise the issue of imperfection of the charge and cannot at this point bring it up especially when the defendant has pleaded not-guilty to the said charge.
He further stated that the PW4 who is secretary to the committee, testified and tendered evidence PW4A1-A6; terms of reference of the committee, which spelled out the mandate of the committee itself.
He argued that PW4 had testified that he was not aware of the account at access bank but was only made aware when he was invited by the EFCC.
He also said the PW4 had confirmed that names the defendant paid monies to were unknown to him. The prosecution counsel further stated that the defendant spent monies without the committee secretariat knowing about it. He urged the court to look at exhibits PW6 J1-J5 and PW6 K1-K4 which he described as extra judicial statements made by Oronsanye.
The prosecution, in his conclusion, stated that the defendant had been given the opportunity to produce those he paid the monies to but he had been given excuses. He further said that the reply of the defendant on point of law, essentially a no case submission, is a reopening of arguments.
He therefore urged the court to discountenance submission of the defendant and dismiss the no-case submission.
He urged that the defendant be called upon to open his defense and give account of the monies.
The presiding judge, Olasumbo Goodluck, after hearing arguments adjourned ruling to May 4, 2017.