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Abuja High Court Sets Ex-Speaker, Dimeji Bankole Free



Former Speaker of Nigeria’s Federal House of Representatives, Dimeji Bankole was today (Friday) in an Abuja Federal high court discharged and acquitted of the 16 counts criminal charge leveled against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes commission (EFCC)  over a N9bn contract scam.

EFCC’s case against Bankole involves the purchase of two Range Rover bullet-proof vehicles; two Range Rover vehicles (without bullet proof); three Mercedes Benz S-600 cars; 400 units of DSTV systems; 400 television sets; 800 units of desktop computers; 100 units of Sharp Digital Copier, and 400 units of HP LaserJet 2600N.

Justice Evoh Chukwu presided over proceedings and in a ruling on a no-case-submission filed by Bankole after the prosecution had called its witnesses against him in the trial, he held that there was no evidence which shows the former speaker committed the said offences.

Allegations had been made by the EFCC that majority of the purchases were contrary to Sections 17 to 56 of the Public Procurement Act No.14 of 2007, and punishable under Section 58(5) of the same Act.

Popular lawyer Festus Keyamo was the prosecuting counsel for the Bankole case. The former speaker pleaded not guilty to the charges

Six witnesses, including officials of the National Assembly  were invited by the prosecution to testify in the case.

Dimeji Bankole’s lawyer, Mr. O. Akoni, SAN, filed an application for a no-case-submission after the last witness had spoken. He asked the court to acquit and discharge him on the grounds that the EFCC had not established a prima facie case against him.

Justice Chukwu stressed that to prove the case against the former Speaker, the EFCC must prove that the accused colluded with the supplier or contractor to supply at inflated prices.

He held that the anti-graft agency was unable to prove such.

The judge further also made it clear that witnesses brought by the prosecution before the court all admitted that Bankole was not the chief accounting officer of the House.

 “All the witnesses told the court that the procedure for the award of the contract followed due process. None of them showed that the accused person entered into a collusive agreement with the contractors or their agents.

“The accused person does not own any of the companies.”

He made it clear that the prosecution did not provide any evidence to prove that Bankole benefited from the contract.

“In the totality of the evidence of the prosecution there is nothing to show that the accused person acted with intention to defraud – there is no evidence to show that he selected the companies that were awarded the contract.

“There is no evidence to show that any of the companies were fronting for the accused person.

“There is no evidence to show that the accused person was a director or a shareholder in any of the companies.

“The prosecution has not disclosed any intent to defraud to warrant the accused person to be ordered to enter his defence.

“All the witnesses stated that the Speaker was not the chief accounting officer and that the award of the contracts followed due process,” the judge said.

The Judge then went on to discharge the ex-speaker as Bankole left the court as a free man

“It would amount to inquisition to ask the accused person to enter his defence in this case.

“The no-case-submission succeeds and the accused person is discharged and acquitted of all the 16 counts in the charge.

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