By Ise-Oluwa Ige
ABUJAâ€”The Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja yesterday quashed a nine-count N55million bribery charge slammed against one-time Senate President, Chief Adolphous Wabara, former EducationÂ Minister, Professor Fabian Osuji and SenatorÂ Ibrahim Abdulazeez.
The appellate court which set them free yesterday after standing trial for seven years held that the prosecution woefully failed to establish prima facie case against them.
In fact, Justice Mary Odili who delivered the lead judgment which set them free yesterday held that the charge pressed against them was frivolous, baseless and lacking in merit.
It would be recalled that six legislators including former Senate President, Senator Adolphus Wabara were, seven years ago, arraigned before an Abuja high court for allegedly demanding and collecting N55million bribe from the sacked Education Minister, Prof Fabian Osuji for the passage of the 2005 budget of the Federal Ministry of Education.
The five other legislators were Senator Ibrahim Abdulazeez, Senator John Azuta Mbata, Senator Emmanuel Okpede, Senator Badamasi Maccido and Dr Garba Sheu Matazu.
The former Education Minister, Prof Osuji who had admitted giving the bribe was also arraigned before the court for offering the bribe to the legislators.
Although they were docked together, separate charges were preferred against them.
But soon after the arraignment, the trio of Wabara, Osuji and Abdulazeez filed an application seeking to quash the charge.
The trial high court judge, Justice Hussein Murhktar however, dismissed the application for lacking in merit.
But the trio proceeded to the Court of Appeal to contest the verdict of the trial high court.
While the case was on-going there, two of the accused persons in the case, Senator John Azuta Mbata and Dr Garba Sheu Matazu applied for separate trial, a request that was granted by the trial judge, Justice Hussein Murhktar.
Besides, two of the accused persons Senator Badamasi Maccido, Senator Emmanuel Okpede and one other died during the trial and their names struck out from the charges sheet.
The trio of Wabara, Osuji and Ibrahim Abdulazeez, however, went ahead with their case.
The Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja entered judgment in their favour yesterday.
According to Justice Mary Odili in her lead judgment, she held that the charge preferred against them was bogus and failed to disclose any prima facie case against them