The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission’s withdrawal from the corruption trial of a former governor, Danjuma Goje, just after he agreed to back President Buhari’s candidate for the Senate Presidency, has caused an uproar among Nigerians.
The anti-graft agency withdrew from the prosecution of the senator-elect for allegedly misappropriating N25 billion while in office as governor.
The decision of the EFCC to withdraw from the case which has been on for about eight years, came a day after Mr Goje stepped down from the race for Senate President in the 9th National Assembly.
He stepped down on Thursday after meeting President Muhammadu Buhari who urged him to support his colleague, Ahmed Lawan. Mr Lawan is also backed by the governing APC.
Mr Goje later said he stepped down for Mr Lawan out of respect for the party and President Buhari.
When Mr Goje’s corruption trial came up for an emergency hearing before Justice Babatunde Quadri of the Federal High Court II in Jos, the EFCC counsel, Wahab Shittu, told the court the agency was withdrawing from the case and handing it over to the office of the attorney-general for continuation.
“My Lord, this case was earlier adjourned for June 20 for the continuation of hearing, but then we are here today on the latest development on the matter,” he said.
“We as EFCC counsels are withdrawing from the matter and handing it over to the office of the attorney-general for continuation with the prosecution.”
“As you can see in court today is a state counsel from the AGF’s office to formally take over this case from us,” EFCC counsel was quoted to have said.
While Mr. Goje’s lawyer, Paul Erokoro did not object the anti-graft agency’s withdrawal, the lawyer representing the office of the attorney-general, Pius Asika, applied for an adjournment to enable him to prepare for the case proper.
The matter was adjourned to June 21, 2019 for continuation of hearing.