A Federal High Court sitting in Jos Friday quashed the charges on sales of 50 old-buses against Senator Danjuma Goje and thereafter discharged him.
It is suspected that the withdrawal of Goje from the contesting the Senate Presidency against President Muhammadu Buhari’s favourite for the position, Ahmed Lawan, earned him the deal to drop the charges which has officially been done.
Justice Babatunde Quadiri, the trial Judge in the over eight-year-old case, made the pronouncement after the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Abubakar Malami, applied for the withdrawal the two charges.
The Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) was prosecuting Goje, who was also governor of Gombe State until June 7 when it withdrew from the case for the AGF to continue with prosecution.
The case was on the way and manner 50 old-buses belonging to Gombe State Transport Company were sold under Goje’s watch as governor between 2003 and 2011.
The EFCC had filed 21-count charge against Goje, but 19 of the charges were later struck out leaving only two-counts after Goje’s ‘No case submission’.
When the case came up for hearing yesterday, the AGF prosecution counsel, Mr. Pius Akutah told the court that he had an application to withdraw the charges against Goje and one other.
He said, “My Lord, we have an application having taken over the case and reviewed the 21 count charges of no case submission, and by the ruling of this court quashed 19 leaving only two count charges in which they are to enter defence.
“As it is, the Federal Ministry of Justice wishes to withdraw those two charges against the accused persons.
“This action is in line with the power vested on the AGF by virtue of section 128 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015 particularly sub section 1 of that section (128).
“It’s in accordance with the power vested on the AGF by the constitution that we wish to withdraw the charges before your Lordship.
“This is our humble application, and we urge your Lordship to grant our application.”
Responding, Mr. Adeniyi Akintola (SAN), Counsel to Goje, did not oppose the application. He said, “My Lord, we are not opposing the application but we are urging your Lordship to evoke the provision of section 2(a) (b) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015 and acquit them of the charges.
“The same section gives your Lordship the discretionary power to make an order for the accused persons to be discharged and acquitted. My Lord has the power under section 3.
“As we urge your Lordship to consider our humble application, we wish to thank you for your patience with us since 2011 when we started this journey on the case.
“We also wish to commend the AGF for wise decision in bringing this case to an end.”
Quadiri, in his ruling said pursuant to section 174(1) particularly sub-section (b) and coupled with section 108 (2) of 2015, “the application by the AGF to withdraw the charges is hereby granted.”
“The accused persons are hereby discharged,” the judge declared.