#Dasukigate: Court faults EFCC, stops trial of Col. Ashinze over falsehood, media trial

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) suffered a major setback in the trial of Colonel Nicholas Ashinze and three others in an alleged N3billion unlawful transfer as the Federal High Court in Abuja suspended the case over an alleged falsehood and media trial engaged by the anti-graft agency against the military officer.

Ashinze was Military Assistant to former National Security Adviser, Colonel Sambo Dasuki (Rtd).

Counsel to Ashinze, Mr. Ernest Nwoye, had at the resumed trial protested the press statement issued by EFCC in which the defendant was reported to have been indicted by the court for diverting and misappropriating a whopping sum of N36billion.

Apart from the alleged N36bn said to have been diverted and misappropriated, the EFCC statement also referred to serving Colonel Ashinze as a retired officer.

The counsel who drew the attention of Justice Gabriel Kolawole to the offending EFCC press statement, tendered the statement and the newspaper publications at the court to establish bias and misrepresentation of the court proceeding of March 7, 2017 by the anti-graft agency.

Nwoye told the Judge that Colonel Ashinze was never charged by EFCC for any offence on N36billion diversion and misappropriation and wondered where EFCC Media team, that was not present in the court, got its proceeding that the defendant had been indicted for the amount.

The counsel urged the Court to frown at Media Trial the defendant is being subjected to as such action if not checked, will lead to misrepresentation of facts by the general public.

Nwoye also tendered newspaper publications that emanated from the EFCC press statement issued by one Mr. Wilson Uwujare who claimed to be the Head of Media and Publicity in the EFCC. Nwoye said that both the complainant and the defendant are bound by court records of proceeding and any attempt by one of the parties to concoct lies to prejudice the order is against the rule of law and natural justice.

Justice Kolawle who was taken aback by the EFCC’s press statement asked the EFCC counsel, Mr Ofem Uket if he was aware of the press statement and if he ever issued any.

The EFCC counsel denied ever granting press interview in respect of the trial but admitted receiving letter of complaint from Nwoye and that he consulted with EFCC and discovered that the Press Statement was actually released to the media. Uket, in his defence said that contrary to the charge of N3billion alleged transfer, evidence from witnesses have shown that about N5billion was involved. However, Justice Kolawole who was not impressed by the argument of the EFCC’s counsel told him that the proceeding would have to stop pending the time the EFCC would put its house in order by stopping to mislead the public on court proceedings.

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