By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
ABUJA—An Abuja High Court sitting at Apo, yesterday, struck out the six-count charge the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission, ICPC, preferred against former Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Elder Godsday Orubebe, over alleged N1.97 billion contract fraud.
Trial judge, Justice Olukayode Adeniyi, also discharged the defendants, after the charge was withdrawn by the prosecution.
The charge was withdrawn on a day the court earlier gave the anti-graft agency leave to produce its witnesses to establish that Orubebe, who served under ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, diverted funds meant for the compensation of owners of property on Eket Urban section of the East-West Road in Eket, Akwa Ibom State.
Other defendants in the charge were an Assistant Director at the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, Mr. Oludare Alaba, and the Director of Contracts, Gitto Costruzioni Generali Nig. Ltd., Mr. Ephraim Zari.
However, shortly after the defendants were arraigned, the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, SAN, in a letter to Chairman of ICPC, with Ref No. DPPA/MNDA/345/16, confirmed that the N1,965,576,153.46, which Orubebe allegedly diverted, “has not been expended, but awaiting further contract decisions and directives from the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs.”
The AGF’s letter dated December 16, 2016 by the Director of Public Prosecution of the Federation, Mr. Mohammed U. E, said: “In view of the above, the basis for the prosecution of the accused persons for misappropriation does not exist and thus, further prosecution cannot be justified.
“I am directed to convey the directive of the AGF, invoking his powers under section 174(1) (c) of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended), sections 105 and 109 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015, that you drop the charge against the suspects.”