By Soni Daniel, Regional Editor, North
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, yesterday filed fresh corruption charges against former governor of Bayelsa State, Timipre Sylva, at the Federal High Court, Abuja.
Sylva is charged alongside Francis Okokuro, Gbenga Balogun, and Samuel Ogbuku. They allegedly used three companies – Marlin Maritime Limited, Eat Catering Services Limited, and Haloween-Blue Construction and Logistics Limited to move about N19.2 billion from Bayelsa State coffers between 2009 and 2012, under false pretense of using the withdrawn money to augment salaries of the state government workers.
The action of the anti-graft agency comes two days after Justice A. R. Mohammed of the Federal High Court dismissed the 42- count charge of stealing brought against Sylva and his co-accused by the EFCC, with the excuse that the prosecution’s application to consolidate the charges against the defendants amounted to an abuse of court process.
The Commission faulted the ruling on the grounds that it was premature as the accused persons had not taken any plea before the court.
The action of the trial judge stalled the move by the anti-graft agency to consolidate the charges against the former governor having, days earlier, withdrawn similar charges pending before Justice E.S. Chukwu of the same court.
The anti-graft agency awaits the assignment of the case, to pave way for the arraignment of Sylva and others.
It is not clear if the case would still be assigned to Justice A. R. Mohammed or another judge of the Federal High Court, Abuja.