After 14 years of trial, all the six suspects in the attempted murder of the late former Director General of National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Professor Dora Akuniyi, were, on Tuesday, discharged and acquitted by an Abuja High Court.
In his judgment, the judge, Justice Ishaq Bello, who is also the Chief Judge of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), held that the prosecution failed in providing substantial evidence linking the accused persons to the alleged crime.
The judge held further that the entire charge was woven around the suspicious movement of the accused persons and nothing more.
Besides, the judge said the prosecution failed to pin the accused persons to the scene of the crime and the commission of the crime, adding that the failure of the prosecution to investigate the alibi of the accused persons was fatal to his case.
Accordingly, the judge held that Francis Okoye (a.k.a Ebubedike), Emmanuel Nnakwe (a.k.a. Aboy), Marcel Nnakwe, Emeka Orjiafor, Christopher Mbah (a.k.a Persus) and Olisaemeka Igbokwe (a.k.a Holy War) are discharged and acquitted.
Justice Bello agreed with the defence counsel, Clement Onwuenwunor, that the charge of attempted murder and conspiracy could not stand against the suspects as suspicion alone could not be the basis for criminal responsibility.
“There is nothing before this court showing that it is the accused persons that caused the death of the bus driver, Emeka Onuekutu, who lost his life during the said attack on the late Akunyili. He was shot with an AK-47 rifle which Sergeant Haruna Adamu, one of the prosecution witnesses, said was taken for ballistic examination whose report was exhibited in court.
“His evidence was not controverted by the prosecution. Moreso, PW 13, who performed the autopsy, never extracted any pellets from the deceased to show that he was shot. Where is the evidence linking the commission of the crime to the accused persons?
“The entire evidence has fallen short of the standard of circumstantial evidence. Prosecution dwelled more on the movement of the accused persons with nothing pointing towards the accused persons.”
Justice Bello further held that the prosecution also failed to prove the case of conspiracy against the accused persons since conspiracy could not have successfully manifested in view of the MTN call logs of the accused persons.
The accused persons now discharged and acquitted, according to the three-count charge filed against them had conspired at different places, including Abuja and Anambra State, to murder Akunyili on her way to her country home in Angulu, Anambra State.
Although Akunyili escaped death by the whiskers during the attack, one Emeka Onuekutu, a bus driver, lost his life in the attack.
Justice Bello had earlier quashed the charge against all the suspects and discharged them, saying he lacked territorial jurisdiction to adjudicate on the matter.