By Soni Daniel, Regional Editor, North
ABUJA — Apparently angered and disappointed by the dismissal of the money laundering charges it preferred against former Bayelsa governor, Timipre Sylva, by Justice A. R. Mohammed of the Abuja Federal High Court, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, yesterday, released 50 fresh charges against the All Progressives Congress, APC, chieftain.
The charges were increased from the initial 42 to 50 by the anti-graft agency, thereby giving Sylva a tougher task to defend himself in the matter, which has already been filed and likely to be assigned to a new judge.
The charges, according to a document obtained by Vanguard, yesterday, were prepared and filed in court by the Director of Legal of the EFCC, Mr. Chile Okoroma.
In the new changes, the EFCC carefully listed the acts of looting alleged to have been perpetrated by Sylva when he was the governor of the riverine state.
In the new charges, the former governor is alleged to have connived with three companies said to be close to him to commit the offences preferred against him between 2007 and 2011.
The elongation and filing of fresh charges against Sylva come barely a week after Justice A.R. Mohammed dismissed the 42-count charge against the former governor on account of abuse of court processes.
But the commission immediately faulted the action of the judge for dismissing the case without it being heard and Sylva even making a plea of whether he is guilty or not.
According to the anti-graft agency, Justice A. R Mohammed erred in law by dismissing the charge as the accused persons had not taken any plea and no proof of evidence placed before the court while trial had also not started.
It noted that the dismissal of the charge by Justice Mohammed following the application of the commission to consolidate the charges against the former governor and his accomplices, does not amount to a discharge or an acquittal, and it does not preclude the power of the agency to bring fresh charges against the defendants.
It will be recalled that Sylva, along with Francis Okokwo, Gbenga Balogun, and Samuel Ogbuku, are alleged to have 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to move about N19.2 billion from Bayelsa State coffers between 2009 and 2012, under false pretence of using the withdrawn money to augment salaries of the state government workers.