By Victor Ahiuma-Young
MORE troubles are on the way for Teidi Shuaibu and 39 other persons standing trial for allegedly siphoning N12 billion Federal Civil servants’ pension funds.
Teidi, a former Director of Pension Administration in the Office of the Head of Service of the Federation and others were also standing trial for the missing funds.
Though the accused were Tuesday discharged by the Federal High Court, Abuja, they were immediately re-arrested by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
It will be recalled that the accused were first arraigned on March 24, 2011, on a 134- count charge for allegedly defrauding the pension department, Office of the Head of Service of the Federation, of N12 billion pension funds. Discharging them, Justice Adamu Bello said the court’s action was at the instance of the EFCC which prayed for separate trial of the suspects.
He said the prosecution had formally withdrawn the old charges against the accused to create room for the filing of fresh ones.
Justice Bello said “This is the only workable option and in the light of the above, the case file will be re-assigned by the authority of the Federal High Court. The 40 accused are hereby discharged and are no more before this court.” At the resumed hearing in the case, the prosecuting counsel, Chief Godwin Obla, announced that his client gave him an instruction to further break up the accused for separate trial.
He said “My client has instructed me to withdraw an amended charge dated July 26, 2011 comprising 40 accused persons, to give room for separate trial and good case management. We have filed seven sets of charges pursuant to this instruction and will be applying for permission to substitute the earlier charges with the one filed on March 14. The application is brought pursuant to sections 155 and 168 of the Criminal Procedure Act, CPA. My Lord, this is to reflect the extent of the alleged complicity and participation of the related parties.”
Leading other defence counsels to oppose the application, Mr Sunday Ameh, SAN, said the move would erode the progress so far made in the case. According to them, the former charges should be left to stand as each accused person understands the allegation against him or her.