Malami terminates N1.8bn fraud case against Dasuki’s ex-aide after taking over from EFCC

A federal high court in Abuja on Tuesday discharged Nicholas Ashinze, a former aide of Sambo Dasuki, former national security adviser, of money laundering allegations.

The ruling of the court followed the withdrawal of the case by the office of the attorney-general of the federation (AGF).

Ashinze was arraigned alongside Wolfgang Reinl, an Austrian security consultant; Sagir Mohammed, a retired military intelligence officer; and Edidiong Idiong, a legal practitioner.

Other defendants in the case are five companies — Geonel Integrated Services Limited, Unity Continental Nigeria Limited, Helpline Organisation, Vibrant Resource Limited and Sologic Integrated Service Limited listed as 5th to 9th defendants respectively.

They were re-arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on a 13-count money laundering charge to the tune of N1.8 billion in October 2017.

The money was alleged to have emanated from the office of the former NSA where Ashinze served as special assistant.

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The defendants, however, pleaded not guilty to all the counts preferred against them.

At the court session on Tuesday, David Kaswe, who appeared for the AGF, informed the court that he had the approval of Abubakar Malami to take over the case.

The lawyer said this was in accordance with section 174(1)(a) and (c) of the 1999 constitution (as amended).

Offem Uket, EFCC’s counsel, said although he was unaware of the change, he was not opposed to the application.

After taking over the suit, Kaswe moved a motion for the withdrawal of the criminal charge against the defendants.

Afam Osigwe, Patrick Agu and Anita Isato, all lawyers to the defendants, did not oppose Kaswe’s application.

They, however, prayed the court for a consequential order acquitting their clients.

Osigwe, who represented the second, fourth, fifth, and sixth defendants, argued that considering the facts and circumstances of the case and including the number of years spent, the court should exercise its discretionary powers in acquitting the defendants.

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“Such an order of acquittal will show that the Nigerian justice system is one that gives justice to all,” he said.

Other defence lawyers aligned with Osigwe’s submission.

But the AGF’s lawyer opposed the application for an order of acquittal.
“We pray that the defendants be discharged but not acquitted,” Kaswe said.

Delivering the ruling, Okon Abang, presiding judge, held that the prosecution had not closed their case before the application for withdrawal was made.

“The court cannot be satisfied on the merit of the case except the prosecution closed their case and the defendants testified in their defence and called their witnesses,” he said.

Consequently, Abang struck out the amended charge and discharged the defendants.

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