By Innocent Anaba
ABUJA—Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja has discharged and acquitted the former Group Managing Director of Transcorp Plc, Mr. Tom Iseghohi.
The appellate court in a unanimous decision, also set aside the decision of a Federal High Court in Abuja of October 20, 2014, which overruled the no-case submission by Iseghohi.
In the lead judgment, the Appeal Court further dismissed entirely, the 32-count charge of money laundering brought against him by Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
The anti-graft commission had arraigned Isoghohi; former Company Secretary, Mohammed Buba; and Deputy General Manager, Mike Okoli, in 2009 over alleged fraud and money laundering in connection with the botched acquisition of the Nigeria Telecommunications, NITEL, by Transcorp.
At the lower court, trial began before Justice D.U Okorowo, before it was transferred to Justice Evoh Chukwu.
The first prosecution witness (PW1) was Helen Iwuchukwu, now Company Secretary and former Legal Adviser, Department of Shared Services and Strategic Partnership of Transcorp when the alleged crime was committed.
Five other witnesses testified for the prosecution, with PW4, who was in charge of audit and finance, saying he did not trace any money to the accused persons.
The fifth prosecution witness, Aminueem Mohammed, an EFCC operative, said he investigated the case but added under cross-examination that the commission did not receive any petition from Transcorp and NITEL against the defendants nor did they complain about missing funds.
Consequently, the defendants filed a no-case submission, urging the court to dismiss the charge because it established no prima facie case against them.
But the Court of Appeal in setting aside the decision of the Federal High Court, held that from the evidence adduced by the prosecution at the trial, there was no basis for the refusal of the no-case submission.