Courts dismisses N1.97 billion fraud charge against Orubebe

An Abuja High Court has dismissed a six-count charge leveled against Godsday Orubebe, former Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC).

The commission had earlier accused the former minister of being involved in a contract fraud worth N1.97 billion.

Olukayode Adeniyi, the judge presiding over the case, discharged and acquitted the defendants after the charge was withdrawn by the prosecution.

The charge was withdrawn after the ICPC chairman got a letter from Abubakar Malami, Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, with reference number DPPA/MNDA/345/16, confirming that the N1,965,576,153.46, which Orubebe allegedly diverted, “has not been expended, but is awaiting further contract decisions and directives from the ministry of Niger-Delta Affairs”.

The court had earlier fixed a date for the anti-graft agency to produce its witnesses in court to establish that Orubebe, who served under former President Goodluck Jonathan, diverted funds meant for the compensation of owners of properties on Eket urban section of the East-West Road in Eket, Akwa Ibom state.

“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,” the letter which was signed by the director of public prosecution and dated December 16, 2016, read.

Other defendants in the charge were Oludare Davis Alaba, an assistant director at the ministry of Niger-Delta affairs, and Ephraim Towede Zari, director of contracts, Gitto Costruzioni General Nig Ltd.

Though Ekoi Akpos, ICPC counsel, applied to withdraw the charge, he insisted that the decision was not premised on the letter from the AGF.

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