DasukiGate: Judge berates EFCC over ‘media trial’ of Nicholas Ashinze

Sambo Dasuki
Former National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki

The Federal High Court Abuja on Tuesday suspended the ongoing trial of Nicholas Ashinze until the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, puts its house in order.

Mr. Ashinze was an aide to former National Security Adviser, NSA, Sambo Dasuki.

At the resumed trial, counsel to Mr. Ashinze, Ernest Nwoye, protested a press statement issued by the EFCC, in which the defendant was reported to have been indicted by the court for diverting and misappropriating N36 billion.

He said that the EFCC statement also referred to Mr. Ashinze, who is still in service, as a retired officer.

The counsel, who drew the attention of Justice Gabriel Kolawole to what he described as an offending EFCC press statement, tendered the statement and the newspaper publications in court.

He said that the anti-graft agency had misrepresented the court proceeding of March 7.

Mr. Nwoye told the court that Mr. Ashinze was never charged by the EFCC for any offence of diversion and misappropriation of N36billion.

He wondered where the EFCC media team got its proceedings that the defendant had been indicted for the offence.

He urged the court to frown at the ‘media trial’ the defendant was being subjected to, as such action if not checked, would mislead the general public.

Justice Kolawole asked the EFCC counsel, Ofem Uket, if he was aware of the press statement and if he ever issued any.

Mr. Uket denied granting a press interview in respect of the trial, but admitted to receiving a letter of complaint from Mr. Nwoye.

He also said that he consulted with the EFCC and discovered that the statement was actually released to the media.

In his ruling, Mr. Kolawole said that it was unfair for the EFCC, as a complainant in the trial, to resort to self-help by engaging the defendant in a media trial and at the same time in a court trial.

“If you want to try the defendant in the media, you have to limit yourself to the media. You have to stop misleading the public in the facts of this trial.

“Let me say it for the sake of emphasis that EFCC must stop the use of journalists to distort proceedings in my court. You cannot be engaging in two trials, one in the court and one in the media, at the same time.

“If you are not satisfied with my decision to stop this trial pending the time the EFCC retracts this offending press statement of my court proceeding, then you can take your case to another court.

“This press statement by one Wilson Uwujaren, who claims to be from EFCC, is scandalous and prejudice to fair trial of the defendant in this matter.

“In order to prevent media and court trial at the same time with one misrepresenting the other, I have stopped this trial pending the time the EFCC retracts the offending press statement.

“The retraction has to be done between now and April 13, and this EFCC witness is hereby ordered to step down from the witness box and come back on April 13.”

The EFCC had arraigned Mr. Ashinze, Wolfgang Reinl, who is an Austrian, Edidiong Idiong and Sagir Mohammed, on a 13-count charge of corruption and money laundering to the tune of N3.1 billion.

They allegedly diverted the money from the office of the former NSA.

The defendants, who were arraigned along with five companies, denied the charges preferred against them.

(NAN)


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  • Nkem

    Mr Judge sir, please don’t be annoyed sir. You have to bear with EFCC and also bear with with us sir. The thing is that we no longer trust judges to give us justice so we are left with no choice but to turn to media trial. If this matter offends you so much you just have to bear with us. We know that maybe the media trial ism

    • abodes_124

      It is obvious that the EFCC carries out its media trial because it delights people like you. Unfortunately media trial will titillate you and other ‘teeming supporters’ but never result in a conviction.. Those of us who want to see convictions after a fair trial would very much prefer a court trial as it is more likely to produce the appropriate outcome.

      • Nkem

        In case you have forgotten, there is something called NAMING and SHAMING. If our judges can’t give us conviction, then maybe we will just have to make do with shaming all these people. See people like Rickey Tarfa for instance, when was the last time you saw him in court prosecuting one of these high-profile, money-spinning cases in court? What of Olisa Metuh? When last did you hear him making noise in public? Now, any would-be criminal if they have any sense, will think twice before going the same route.

        • Razorblade007

          Name and shame, fine!, but name and shame with false information?..Is the guy being tried for 36 billion fraud, No!….So in your books, you name and shame using lies?

  • Gary

    One more strike against Ibrahim Magu’s tactics of prosecuting his cases via the media.
    Sooner rather than later the rascals in the Executive will come round to the fact that they cannot ride roughshod over the people and the two other arms of our representative government.
    Magu and his ilk must not be allowed to get away with the idea that the rule of law and due process are optional concepts in a democracy. This is why he should not be confirmed as the substantive head of the EFCC.

    • Sanssouci

      And apparently it has worked, the public has been swayed, because anybody that even dares question his suitability for the job is now seen as an enemy of progress and lover of corruption. This guy Ashinze can defend himself and fight back because he is in court, How many people that were never even charged to court for lack of evidence have had their names smeared by EFCC’s media machinery? How do those seek redress? For the EFCC to get the case details in a press statement wrong when they are the investigators and prosecutors of the case is alarming.

  • Sanssouci

    “This press statement by one Wilson Uwujaren, who claims to be from
    EFCC, is scandalous and prejudice to fair trial of the defendant in this
    matter.”
    Heavy…

  • abodes_124

    And we wonder why the senate does not want to confirm Magu Magu