The Office of the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice on Friday announced it had taken over the prosecution of the former Gombe State Governor, Danjuma Goje, for N5bn money laundering case from the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The development came less than 24 hours after Goje withdrew from the Senate presidency race in support of Senator Ahmed Lawal.
Lawal has been endorsed by the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) for the role in the 9th National Assembly.
Goje and two others have been on trial for some years at the Jos Federal High Court for money laundering charges brought against them by the EFCC.
The anti-corruption agency specifically accused the lawmaker of forging a resolution of the state House of Assembly to collect a N5bn loan from Access Bank while he was governor between 2003 and 2011.
The EFCC claimed Goje, between September and November 2010, forged a document titled, ‘Resolution authorising His Excellency, the Executive Governor of Gombe State to acquire a loan of N5,000,000,000.00 only’, with Ref. No: GM/HA/RES/VOL. 1/17.
That resolution was alleged to have been signed by Shehu Atiku, Clerk of the Gombe State House of Assembly, with the intent that it be acted upon as a genuine document by Access Bank, leading to a N5bn-facility being obtained from the bank by the Goje administration “for infrastructural projects”.
EFCC said its investigations revealed that the purported resolution authorising the loan was forged, pointing out that the approval did not pass through the right processes.
During the trial, one of the accused, Mr Sabo Tumu, died, forcing the court to strike his name out of the case.
The EFCC through its counsel, Wahab Shittu, closed its case against the defendants on May 31, 2018 after calling 24 witnesses and tendering several documents to prove its case.
But counsel for Goje, Chris Uche (SAN), on September 14, 2018 filed a “no-case” submission while the prosecution counsel urged the court to dismiss same.
The court had earlier retained two charges preferred against the Senator after dismissing 19 others.
But the EFCC rejected the judgement delivered by Justice Babatunde Quadri of the Jos Federal High Court II, dismissing the 19 charges against Goje and approached the Court of Appeal in Jos to overrule the judge.
The appellate court has yet to fix a date for the hearing of the appeal.
When the case came up for an emergency hearing before Justice Quadri, Shittu, said the EFCC was withdrawing from the case and handing it over to the office of the AGF for continuation.
Lawyer for the ex-governor, Paul Erokoro (SAN), did not object to EFCC’s withdrawal and handing over of the case to the AGF’s office.