Court acquits ex-minister Turaki of money laundering charges

A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, has acquitted former Minister of Special Duties and Intergovernmental Affairs, Kabiru Turaki, of money laundering charges.

The EFCC, had in a 16-count charge, accused the ex-minister alongside his former Special Assistant, Sampson Okpetu, and two firms (Samtee Essentials Limited and Pasco Investment Limited), of money laundering charges involving about N854m.

The anti-graft commission, alleged that the ex-minister used the two companies (Samtee Essentials Limited, and Pasco Investment Limited), to perpetrate the alleged fraud, while he was serving as the Minister of Special Duties and Intergovernmental Affairs, and during his stint as a supervisory minister under the Ministry of Labour.

Turaki presided over the Ministry of Special Duties and Intergovernmental Affairs from 2013 to 2015 and served as the Supervising Minister of Labour from 2014 to 2015 in former President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration.

Delivering ruling on the no-case submission filed by the defence, Justice Inyang Ekwo, held that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), had failed to link Turaki and his co-defendants with the offences contained in the 16 counts, adding that the prosecution could not establish a prima facie case against them.

While describing the 12 witnesses relied on by the EFCC as “tainted witnesses”, Justice Ekwo said that the defendants had dislodged all the evidence of the prosecution witnesses summoned in the matter during cross-examination.

The judge further noted that it was established during cross-examination that Turaki was not a signatory to the account of the ministry and did not authorise any payment or make any transfer of funds.

The court aligned with the argument that held the former minister was not a member of the Ministerial Tender Board and that there was no inflow of funds from the account of the ministry to Turaki’s company.

Justice Ekwo also berated the EFCC refusal to give effect to a letter by the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), to make a case file in respect of the charges available to his office.

The Judge held that under the 1999 Constitution and the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) 2015, the Chief Law Officer of the Federation, has inherent powers to review any criminal charge, take over the trial and even terminate the charges as his office may seem fit.

According to Justice Ekwo, the EFCC goofed by ignoring and neglecting the AGF’s letter of April 4, 2020, which demanded the case file for review in order to avoid malicious prosecution, adding that any law enforcement agency that ignores or neglects the directive of the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) does so at its own peril.

The judge proceeded to invoke sections 105 of ACJA and 21, 23 of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act 2012 and 174 of the 1999 Constitution to declare the trial unlawful, illegal and null and void and struck it out.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *