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N300m budget scam: Aduku innocent ….S ‘Court

By Ikechukwu Nnochiri

ABUJA—A five-man panel of the Supreme Court in Abuja yesterday dismissed  the appeal filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), against a former Minister of  State for Health, Mr. Gabriel Aduku.

EFCC had asked the Supreme Court to void the judgment of an Abuja Division of the Appeal Court which had quashed the criminal allegations preferred against Aduku by the anti-graft agency for allegedly participating in the theft of N300 million unspent budget of the Health Ministry in 2007.

The appellate court, before discharging Aduku from the criminal case, had maintained that EFCC failed to adduce  a prima facie evidence to establish the nexus connecting him to the alleged crime.

Displeased by  the judgment, EFCC appealed to the Supreme Court, insisting that Aduku should be allowed to face trial with other 11 persons currently before an Abuja High Court over the same allegation.

Others facing trial are the Senate Health Committee Chairman, Senator Iyabo Obasanjo-Bello; former Health Minister, Professor Adenike Grange and nine top officials of the ministry.

They are the suspended Permanent Secretary, Mr. Simon Ogandi and the Director of Finance, Hanafi Muhammed; Mr. H.B Oyedepo, Donald Ekanem, Donatus Inyang, J.A Olowo, Obaje Olatunbosun, Henry Onyeagualam and Edem Bassey.

They are facing a 56 criminal count charge of conspiracy, forgery, fraud and criminal breach of public trust.

In a short judgment prepared by Justice Mahmud Mohammed, the apex court dismissed the case on the premises that EFCC failed to comply with the requisite conditions of appeal.

The judgment reads: “Due to failure by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission to comply with conditions of appeal in preparing the record of this appeal and on the certificate of the non-compliance filed on August 13, 2009, this appeal is hereby dismissed.”


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