An alleged move by the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami to take over the prosecution of the alleged N3billion fraud case involving Mrs. Ochuko Momoh, wife of a former Managing Director of Pipelines and Products Marketing Company, Haruna Momoh, has ignited controversy.
The Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) had in March 2020 arraigned Mrs. Momoh and five others before a Federal High Court in Abuja on charges bordering on money laundering.
The others are Blessing Azuka-Agozi, StanbicIBTC Bank Plc, Energopol Nigeria Limited, Blaid Construction Limited and Blaid Farms Limited.
The ICPC, in the charge marked: FHC/ABJ/CR/278/2019, accused Momoh of laundering funds estimated at about N3 billion through her companies – Blaid Construction and Blaid Farms.
Azuka Agozi was allege to have reneged on her promise to provide ICPC’s investigators with documents relating to the contracts Energopol Nigeria Limited allegedly executed for the PPMC, for which it was allegedly paid huge sums.
The ICPC accused Stanbic IBTC of failing to report suspicious transactions in the accounts of Blaid Construction and Blaid Farms to the relevant authorities as required by law.
Trial was concluded in the case on November 23, 2021 with Stanbic IBTC calling its sole witness, following which the trial judge, Justice Taiwo Taiwo adjourned till February 9, 2022 for parties to adopt their final written addresses.
It was, however, learnt that shortly after the conclusion of trial, some of the defendants began reaching out to the Office of the AGF to have him take over the case from the ICPC.
While sources at the ICPC confirmed learning about such move, the defendants and the AGF claimed ignorance of such development.
A senior ICPC official, who confirmed the development, said he heard about the plan by some defendants in the case to explore their relationship with the AGF’s office to take over the case with the intention of discontinuing it.
The official, however, said he was not aware if a formal application has been filed to that effect by the AGF.
“We are worried about such a development. I concede that the AGF has the constitutional powers to take over any criminal case and discontinue same in public interest.
“But the problem has always been the definition of public interest.
“We have had incidents in recent time where the AGF’s intervention stalled proceedings in some high profile cases.