Mohammed Aminu in Gusau
The Federal High Court in Gasau, Zamfara State, has cleared the Chairman of the Zamfara State Universal Basic Education Board, Alhaji Murtala Adamu Jangebe, of corruption and money laundering.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had filed a suit against Jangebe in 2015, accusing him of misappropriation of funds to the tune of N1 billion.
In her judgment, Justice Zainab Abubakar quashed the 10-count charge preferred against him, stressing that some of the charges were null and void while others lacked evidence beyond reasonable doubt for criminal prosecution.
Justice Abubakar held that counts one to five cannot be sustained since the charges under section 15 (2) (a) and (d) of the money laundering act have been expunged in Money laundering Amendment Act 2012.
She averred that conviction could only be made where an offence had been defined and penalty prescribed in a written law.
According to her, count six and seven were struck out on the basis of contradiction in the oral testimony of the witness before the court and his written statements before the EFCC which rendered him unreliable in the eyes of the law.
She also struck out counts eight, nine and 10 for lack of evidence beyond reasonable doubt that is a necessary requirement for criminal prosecution.
Justice Abubakar however, slammed a fine of N200,000 on the defendant for engaging in private business while still in public service, adding â€œI will not convict the defendant for corruption but for engaging in private business.â€
The Zamfara State House of Assembly had set up a special committee to investigate the board in 2013 and ordered the SUBEB Chairman to refund the sum of N747 million to the board, claiming that the amount was allegedly misappropriated.
The EFCC official witness who investigated the case, deposed before the court that in his investigation, he could not find where such money was misappropriated, insisting that the SUBEB boss was not given fair hearing by the assembly when it carried out its investigation.