By Edith Nwapi
#TrackNigeria: The suspended Director-General of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Dr Mounir Gwarzo, and the Executive Commissioner, Zakwanu Garba, on Thursday informed an FCT High Court Maitama that they would make a no-case submission in the charge filed against them.
The duo were arraigned before Justice Husseini Baba-Yusuf, on a five-count charge bordering on fraud by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC).
The defendants, through their counsel, Abdulhakeem Mustapha SAN and Robert Emupkoeruo respectively, informed the court of their intention to file no-case submission.
This they prayed after the prosecuting counsel, Mr Adesina Raheem, had informed the court that the prosecution was closing its case against the defendants with the testimony of the fifth prosecution witness (PW5), Taiwo Olorunyomi.
The defendants counsel stated that they were making the submission pursuant to Section 302 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA), 2015.
Earlier, while being cross examined by Mustapha, Olorunyomi told the court that the offices of SEC executive commissioner and D-G were different.
He stated that the President was to appoint the D-G based on recommendations of the minister (of Finance) and confirmed by the Senate.
According to him, a person could not occupy the offices of executive commissioner and D-G at the same time, adding that Gwarzo was an executive commissioner before May, 2015 when he was appointed SEC D-G.
“He has spent two years (as executive commissioner) by the time he was appointed Director-General,” the witness said.
Olorunyomi, who said he had been an investigator since 2005, told the court that an investigator was supposed to critique all material evidence for or against a defendant under investigation.
He, however, said he was seeing Exhibit D9 shown to him for the first time in the court, saying that the six SEC officials who signed the document confirmed that the payment made to Gwarzo was correct.
The witness was asked by the senior advocate to read the political office holders affected by Certain Political Officer Holders Salaries and Emolument Act.
The witness stated that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Federal Inland Revenue Services (FIRS) and SEC were not listed in the Act.
While being cross examined by counsel for Garuba, Emupkoeruo, the witness stated that the team of investigators concluded that Exhibit ICPC 3 (extract from SEC Board meeting of July, 2002) was illegal.
According to him, “the major document we looked at, to conclude that it is illegal, is Exhibit ICPC 19 “(Certain Political Officer Holders Salaries and Emolument Act).”
He told the court that office of executive commissioner was for a fixed period of time, adding that when the first defendant left the office of executive commissioner that tenure came to an end.
After listening to their submission, Baba-Yusuf adjourned until March 18 for adoption of addresses on the no-case submission by the defendants.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the ICPC accused Gwarzo of committing fraud to the tune of about N115 million in June 2015, when he held forth as SEC Director-General.
It alleged that the suspended D-G received the sum of N104,851,154.94 as severance benefits when he had yet to retire, resign or disengage from the service of SEC.
It added that he conferred a corrupt advantage upon himself when he received the sum of N10,983,488.88 in excess of car grant payable to him.
Garuba, on the other hand, was accused by ICPC of allegedly conniving with Gwarzo to commit the fraud. (NAN)