The Court of Appeal, Abuja Division has discharged and acquitted the Vice Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Capital Market, Hon. Chris Emeka Azubuogu over allegations that he dishonestly converted the sum of $4,095 given to him by the Securities and Exchange Commission for a conference in the Dominican Republic.
In a lead judgment delivered by Justice Amiru Sanusi, the appellate court held that the Abuja High Court which had held that Azubogu had a case to answer erred in law when it dismissed his no-case submission after the respondent (the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission) had failed to prove the essential elements of the offence of dishonest conversion.
Azubogu had consistently maintained that he did not do anything wrong and that the Director General of SEC, Aruma Oteh was merely using the EFCC, where she sits as a member of the Governing Council to harass and persecute him because she was being investigated by his committee.
Justice Sanusi held: “the Prosecution Witness 1(PW 1) is an investigator with the EFCC and under cross examination he admitted that it was impossible for the applicant to have travelled to the Dominican Republic for the conference, as at the time the estadcode was paid to him on the eve when the conference was supposed to end.
“They further admitted that the second accused person (Azubuogu) had offered to return the estacode, PW 4 a staff of SEC under cross examination admitted that when an estacode is collected and the person did not travel another trip would be arranged for him, and the person can return the said money at any time, it is evident from the incontrovertible pieces of evidence, that there is no evidence before the trial court to prove that the appellant committed the said offence. It is also evident that the second accused person had directed that the estacode be returned to SEC.”
The jurists held that there was ample unchallenged evidence at the end of the prosecution’s case that there was no prima facie case against Azubogu.
He further held that neither was there a justifiable evidence to continue with the case.
He said: “The most likely thing for the trial judge to do was to strike out the case. I resolve the two issues in Favour of the appellant. The appellant is discharged and acquitted.”