The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC said it withdrew the six-count fraud charges against former Bayelsa State governor, Timipre Sylva, before Justice E. S Chukwu of the Federal High Court sitting in Maitama, Abuja as a prelude to the consolidation of all the cases it has against him.
The media and publicity department of EFCC in a statement explained that the withdrawal will allow the anti-graft agency consolidate the charges against the former governor, pending before two Federal High Courts in Abuja.
In the withdrawn charge, Sylva was being prosecuted by the EFCC for allegedly converting N2 billion worth of properties and resources belonging to Bayelsa State between 2009 and 2010, during his tenure as governor of the State. EFCC noted that the former governor also has similar charges, a 42 count charge, pending against him before Justice Ahmed Mohammed of the Federal High Court, Abuja.
In the charge, the former governor along with Francis Okokwo, Gbenga Balogun, and Samuel Ogbuku, allegedly conspired and used three companies – Marlin Maritime Limited, Eat Catering Services Limited, and Haloween-Blue Construction and Logistics Limited to move about N19.2 billion from Bayelsa State coffers between 2009 and 2012, under false pretence of using the withdrawn money to augment salaries of the state government workers.
The Commission however failed to explain the opposition of its lawyer to the withdrawal of the suit at the court yesterday.
The move by the Federal Ministry of Justice through the Director of Public Prosecution, DPP to withdrew the N2.45 billion corruption charges against Sylva had resulted in controversies on Monday as it was opposed by the EFCC, represented by its Assistant Director, Legal and Prosecution, Mr. J.O Ojogbane.
Acting on a fiat from the DPP, a private lawyer, O.J Nnadi, SAN, told the judge that the EFCC had instructed him to withdraw the suit. He then urged the court to strike out the case. But the EFCC Assistant Director told the court that the anti graft agency was not part of the decision to withdraw the charges.
Though the EFCC lawyer said he was aware of the move by the DPP to withdraw the suit on behalf of the Attorney General of the Federation, he added that the action should not be attributed to the anti graft agency.
He however confirmed that the case against Slyva was being withdrawn because the former Governor had similar charges pending against him before Justice
Ahmed Mohammed of the same Federal High Court in Abuja which has being prosecuted to an advanced stage.
In his ruling, Justice Chukwu struck out the case as he held that the Attorney-General of the Federation, AGF, possessed the power under the constitution to delegate his power to issue a fiat as it was done in the case.