The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has withdrawn from the corruption trial of a former governor, Danjuma Goje.
Mr Goje, a senator-elect, is being prosecuted for allegedly misappropriating N25 billion while in office as governor. The EFCC, which had been prosecuting him for about eight years, unexpectedly announced its withdrawal on Friday.
The EFCC’s decision comes 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 reportedly urged him to support his colleague, Ahmed Lawan.
Mr Goje later said he stepped down for Mr Lawan out of respect for the party and President Buhari.
According to a report by News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), 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.
“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.
Reacting to this, Mr Goje’s lawyer, Paul Erokoro, was quoted as saying: “My Lord, we do not object to the anti-graft agency’s withdrawal and handing over the prosecution to the AG’s office”.
PREMIUM TIMES gathered that the lawyer representing the office of the attorney-general, Pius Asika, later announced his appearance for the case and applied for an adjournment to enable him to prepare for the case proper.
The matter has been adjourned to June 21, 2019 for continuation of hearing.