An Ikeja High Court on Thursday struck out an N80 million land theft charge filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) against business woman, Mrs Moji Yakubu and nine other persons.
Justice Oluwatoyin Ipaye struck out the charge while ruling on the application to quash the charge filed by the accused persons.
Yakubu alongside her company, Monan Trading Company Ltd., and eight others were charged by the commission for allegedly stealing 10 hectares of land at Sagotedo, Lekki.
The land, according to the anti-graft agency belonged to one Joko Trade Estate Resources Ltd.
Those charged along with her included Muka Bajulaiye, Alhaja Ajimot Adisa, Alani Shirawu, Bajulaiye Hakeem, Akeem Giwa, Rachael Tokede, Adelaja Raji and Nuniru Mushafau.
The EFCC in the 11-count charge had alleged that the defendants forged several documents to facilitate the alleged theft.
The defendants pleaded not guilty to the charge and were granted bail by the court.
Before the commencement of the trial, counsel to Yakubu, Mr Yemi Adeshina, filed an application seeking an order quashing the charges against his client on the ground that they were incompetent.
In the application, Adeshina contended among other things that the charge against his client was an abuse of court process as his client had not committed any crime known to law.
However, the EFCC in a counter motion insisted that there was sufficient evidence for the accused to stand trial.
Ruling on the application, Justice Ipaye upheld the submissions of the defence counsel and struck out the 11 count charges against all the accused persons.
The judge held that the EFCC failed to established a prima facie case against all the accused from the evidence before the court.
She noted that while it was not in dispute that the first defendant (Yakubu) and her company purchased the said 10 hectares of land, the EFCC failed to provide proof that the transaction was an act of crime under the criminal law.
The judge said that from her perusal of the proof of evidence by the EFCC, the simple deduction was that there was controversial sale of the land in question by some persons who belong to the family that rightfully owns the land.
She noted that the defence counsel had exhibited a petition against one Sade Ogundare challenging her power of attorney over a large parcel of land from which the 10 hectares of land was sold.
“From the quick perusal of the proof of evidence filed before me by the EFCC, my deduction is that there has been at best a controversial sale of land by some persons who belong to the family that owns the land.
“This, I believe is an issue that falls within the jurisdiction of civil dispute.
“From the proof of evidence before me, the prosecution has failed to prove that there is sufficient ground for the trial to continue.
“The application filed by the first and second defendants succeeds and the amended information dated March 14, 2016 is hereby quashed.’