By Ise-Oluwa Ige
ABUJA—A Federal High Court, sitting in Abuja, yesterday, quashed a multiple counts of official corruption charge preferred by the Federal Government against Mallam Nasir el-Rufai and two key officials of the Abuja Geographic Information System, AGIS.
The High Court Judge, Justice Adamu Bello, who discharged the accused persons held that he had no jurisdiction to sit on the case.
The affected officials of the AGIS were its Director-General and General Manager, Altine Jubrin and Ismaila Iro, respectively.
Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, prosecuting the trio on behalf of the Federal Government had accused them of conspiring with one another to use their high offices and positions to confer corrupt or unfair advantage upon themselves on one hand and on the relations and associates of el-Rufai on the other hand.
Specifically, el-Rufai was accused of wilfully distorting the Abuja Master Plan by irregularly revoking the title of ownership of two parcels of land belonging to Power Holding Company of Nigeria Plc, PHCN, and the Nigeria Postal Services, NIPOST, and reallocated part of the land to the two officials of AGIS, another to his relations and associates.
The said parcels of land which provoked the criminal charge were located in the high brow areas of Asokoro and Maitama.
But Mallam Nasir El_Rufai who was all smiles yesterday moments after the charge against him collapsed said that the position of the court had vindicated his claim that the late President Yar’Adua’s administration found nothing against him but, out of wickedness, was brought to court for persecution.
Although rufai and the two others were not acquitted yesterday since the matter was not decided on its merit, the former minister dressed in a velvet buba and sokoto with a palm sandal to match, told newsmen “with today’s ruling, the sorry edifice of persecution the Yar’Adua government erected to destroy me is beginning to collapse.”
Indeed, the high court had quashed all the charge against the accused persons yesterday on the ground that the charge had no legal basis to stand, having been filed under a repealed law, the ICPC Act 2000.