The Court of Appeal in Abuja has recently set aside a July 16, 2021 judgement that prevented the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) from initiating either civil or criminal proceedings against former Accountant General of the Federation (AG-F), Jonah Oguniyi Otunla. The court held that Otunla failed to prove that there was actually a non-prosecution agreement between him and the EFCC.
Justice Danlami Senchi, who delivered the ruling, noted that Otunla did not provide any written evidence to support the claim that such an agreement existed and that he could not prevent his prosecution by merely claiming that there was an agreement.
In the suit, Otunla was investigated in relation to two cases: the alleged diversion of about N24b meant for disengaged staff of the defunct Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) and the N2billion allegedly received from the office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA).
Otunla had claimed that then acting Chairman of the EFCC, Ibrahim Magu, had promised him that he would not be prosecuted if he made refund to the Federal Government. In line with the agreement, Otunla said he made a refund of N6,392,000,000.00 to the Federation Account through the EFCC.
The Court of Appeal’s decision signifies that the EFCC is now able to initiate civil or criminal proceedings against the former AGF.
It also highlights the need for written evidence to back up claims of non-prosecution agreements between the EFCC and individuals under investigation.
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