The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission ( EFCC) has rejected out-of-court settlement terms tabled by Senator Danjuma Goje and four others.
The others are a former Gombe State Government House food supplier, Alhaji Sabo Mohammed Tumu; a former Executive Chairman, State Universal Basic Education Board, Alhaji Aliyu Ubadone El-Nafaty; a businessman, S. M. Dokoro; and a firm, S. M. Dokoro Gombe. Goje is a former governor of Gombe State.
All the accused persons, who were first arraigned on October 17, 2011, are facing an 18-count charge bordering on conspiracy and money laundering amounting to N25billion.
Some of the charges are:
* securing N5billion loan for infrastructural projects from Access Bank without the approval of the House of Assembly;
*alleged diversion of N1.6billion meant for the purchase of dictionaries to other projects;
•alleged mismanagement of N1billion obtained from Union Bank for commercial agriculture credit scheme under the supervision of the Central Bank of Nigeria; and
•Award of N1.8billion food supply contract to the ex-governor’s cousin without bid process.
The accused proposed an out-of-court settlement. A plea bargain negotiation session was held between the EFCC team and their representatives.Those at the session were the prosecutor, Mr. Wahab Shittu, the Chief of Staff to the EFCC chairman, representatives from the Legal Unit of the anti-graft agency; the defence counsel, Mr. Paul Erokoro (SAN) and Goje’s representative.
A source said: “Goje and others only opted for an out-of-court settlement instead of plea bargain. They insisted that they have no case to answer because they allegedly committed no wrong. They vowed never to go into any plea bargain.
“At the end of the day, they offered to pay back only N40million to the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), being accruable tax unpaid by the food supplier, who is standing trial.
“Later, the defence team reduced the amount payable to a ridiculous rate of N20million. They even added a clause that any payment effected should be credited to one of the accused persons and not Goje.
“They said once the terms are accepted, the EFCC should withdraw the charges against all the accused persons.”
But the EFCC has rejected all the terms.
EFCC source said: “All the conditions are ridiculous. This is a case in which a former Clerk to Gombe State House of Assembly, Shehu Mohammed Atiku, has told a Federal High Court that the ex-governor forged the Resolution of the House and collected N5bn (five billion naira) facility from Access Bank.
“We already have a heap of evidence before the court to strengthen prosecution. We will go ahead with the trial of all the accused persons”. Justice B. O. Quadri has adjourned the matter till January 17 when the EFCC will tell that the out-of-court negotiation has collapsed.
It was gathered that Acting EFCC Chairman Ibrahim Magu has said that “the EFCC will not accept plea bargain without conviction and substantial refund of the mismanaged funds.