An Abuja High Court has acquitted former Minister of Niger Delta, Godsday Orubebe, who is standing trial on a six-count charge of N1.97 billion contract fraud filed against him by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission, ICPC.
Orubebe alongside the Assistant Director at the Ministry of Niger-Delta Affairs, Oludare Davis Alaba, and the Director of Contracts, Gitto Costruzioni Generali Nig. Ltd., Ephraim Towede Zari, were standing trial for allegedly diverting N1.97 billion meant for the compensation of owners of properties on Eket Urban section of the East-West Road in Eket, Akwa Ibom State.
Last December, the Attorney General of the Federation and Chief Justice of Nigeria, Abubakar Malami, in a letter signed by the Director of Public Procurement DPP, wrote to the Chairman of ICPC, informing him that the N1.97 billion being investigated was still in the coffers of the Federal government as the compensations haven’t been released to the beneficiaries.
Malami stated that the basis for the prosecution of Orubebe and others doesn’t exist. “In view of the above, the basis for the prosecution of the accused persons for misappropriation does not exist and thus, further prosecution cannot be justified”.
ICPC today withdrew the charges against Orubebe. The withdrawal of the charges comes a day after the trial judge mandated the prosecution team to provide witnesses that would testify against Orubebe and others accused of committing the fraud. The prosecution team failed to provide any witness.
Justice Adeniyi this morning struck out the case and acquitted Orubebe and the two others.