The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission on Wednesday discontinued criminal charges against a former Executive Director, First Bank, Dauda Lawal, who is being prosecuted for alleged money laundering.
In the charges before the Federal High Court in Lagos, Lawal was accused of handling $25m out of a total of $153m, which a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke, allegedly doled out to influence the 2015 general elections.
Already the EFCC had called three witnesses in the matter which had been before Justice Muslim Hassan since December 2018.
The case was being handled by an internal prosecutor of the EFCC, Rotimi Oyedepo, who is now on suspension alongside others, in the wake of the arrest and probe of the suspended acting chairman of the EFCC, Ibrahim Magu, for alleged abuse of office and mismanagement of recovered assets.
At the Wednesday proceedings, another EFCC counsel, U. U. Buhari, who appeared in the absence of Oyedepo, came with three witnesses.
Rather than continue with the case, however, Buhari told Justice Hassan that the EFCC was withdrawing charges against Lawal to enable it conduct further investigation.
He added that the EFCC was still making moves to arrest other suspects in the case, particularly Diezani.
Lawal’s lawyer, P.I.N. Ikwueto (SAN), told the judge that he welcomed the EFCC’s decision to withdraw charges against his client, and thanked the prosecutor for his “kind request.”
Ikwueto urged the court to “discharge and acquit” his client of the four counts, so that the EFCC could start afresh whenever it was ready.
In his ruling, Justice Hassan lambasted the anti-graft agency for wasting the time of the court.
He said, “This case suffered several adjournments at the instance of the prosecution….
“I am satisfied that the appropriate order to make is an acquittal. The defendant is hereby discharged and acquitted on the said amended charge.”