A Federal High Court siting in Abuja on February 14, 2014, Friday, discharged and acquitted a former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Dimeji Bankole, of any complicity in a 16-count charge brought against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commissio (EFCC).
The former Speaker was standing trial on a 16 criminal count charge of contract inflation and fraudulent embezzlement of public funds.
The court, presided over by Justice Evoh Stephen Chukwu, held that based on the testimonies of the six witnesses called by the prosecution, the former Speaker was not associated with any wrong doing in the processes leading to the award of the said contracts to justify his being called to enter his defence in the trial.
He further held that the prosecution failed to prove the essential ingredients to justify the charge where the former Speaker was alleged to have colluded with others as covered by counts 3, 6, 9, 12, 13 and 14 of the charge, noting that collusion connotes an agreement to commit a crime which was not shown by the prosecution witnesses in their testimonies.
“From the totality of the six witnesses, nothing shows any act of collusion on the part of the accused person. Nothing shows that he interfered with the process of the award of the contracts. No mention about anybody fronting for him was made by the prosecution witnesses and the process was also said to have complied with the requirements. Based on the totality of these witnesses’ testimonies, I hold that there is nothing to justify his being called to enter his defence as none of the essential ingredients have been proved by the prosecution,” the court ruled.
The court thereafter discharged and acquitted the former Speaker of all the charges.
This is the second time the former Speaker will be discharged and acquitted having received similar verdict before an Abuja High Court where he was arraigned for allegedly obtaining illegal loans totaling about N9 billion for the House of Representatives while at the helm of affairs.