Alleged fraud: Court acquits, discharges suspended SEC DG

Justice Hussein Baba Yusuf on Tuesday discharged the suspended Director-General of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Dr Mounir Gwarzo, on charges of N115 fraud.

Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) charged Gwarzo with an Executive Commissioner in the commission, Zakawanu Garuba, with five counts of alleged misappropriation to the tune of about N115 million and conferment of corrupt advantage on a public officer .

The commission accused Gwarzo of committing fraud to the tune of about N115 million in June, 2015, when he was SEC Director-General.

It alleged that Gwarzo received N104,851,154.94 as severance benefits when he had yet to retire, resign or disengage from the service of the organisation.

It added that the director-general conferred a corrupt advantage upon himself when he received N10,983,488.88 in excess of car grant payable to him.

The commission accused Garuba of conniving with Gwarzo to commit the fraud.

The defendants, however, pleaded not guilty to the charges.

In Tuesday’s ruling, the judge, Baba-Yusuf, held that the prosecution did not establish any prima facie case against the defendants.

He held that the prosecution failed to establish the essential elements of the offence for which the defendants were charged and subsequently discharged them.

On Feb. 7, the defendants’ counsel, Abdulhakeem Mustapha, SAN, and Robert Emupkoeruo, informed the court of their intention to file no-case submission.

They made the prayer after the prosecuting counsel, Mr Adesina Raheem, told the court that the prosecution was closing its case against the defendants with the testimony of the fifth prosecution witness (PW5), Taiwo Olorunyomi.

Gwarzo’s counsel, Mustapha, on March 18 urged the court to hold that the prosecution had not adduced any credible evidence to make the defendant enter any defence.

He informed the court that the no-case submission he prayed for was brought pursuant to sections 302 and 303 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA), 2015.

Mustapha said the prosecution had failed to make out any prima facie case against Gwarzo, adding that the evidence adduced were all contradictory.

He submitted that the prosecution in its written address on the submission relied on the law on certain political office holders and admitted that SEC was not mentioned in the law.

Specifically, he urged the court to uphold the no-case submission by the first defendant, discharge and acquit him of the charges against him.

Counsel to Garuba, Mr Robert Emukpoeruo, also argued that the prosecution had failed from the evidence adduced to make any prima facie case against the second defendant.

He said the evidence adduced by the prosecution during hearing had not established any ingredients of the offence said to have been committed by Garuba.

He, then, urged the court not only to uphold the no-case submission but to discharge and acquit his client.

However, the prosecution counsel, Mr Raheem Adesina, urged the court to dismiss the no-case- submission of the defendants and ask them to enter their defence.

Adesina stated that there was a need for the defendants to explain where they got the severance package from since there was nowhere in Exhibit ICPC 3, before the court where severance package was mentioned. – NAN.

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