Gwarzo and Garuba were, in a five-count charge filed by the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related Commission (ICPC), accused of complicity in a N115million fraud. Ruling on Tuesday, Justice Husseini Baba-Yusuf upheld the no-case submission made by both defendants. Justice Baba-Yusuf held that the prosecution failed to make out a prima facie case against the defendants. He discharged and acquitted them. In the charge, Gwarzo was, in three counts, accused of receiving N104,851,154.94 as severance benefit, between May and June 2015 when he had yet to retire, resign or disengage from service. He was also accused of receiving N10, 983,488.88 as car grant, which he was not entitled to. On his part, Garuba, a former Executive Commissioner, Corporate Services in SEC, was, in two counts, accused of conferring corrupt advantage on another public officer, in the person of Gwarzo, by approving the payments to the suspended SEC boss. In his ruling on Tuesday, Justice Baba-Yusuf said the board of SEC had, by its resolution, approved the payments which the prosecution had alleged to be illegal and dishonest. The judge held that by virtue of the Investments and Securities Act, the resolution by the board of SEC was not subject to a review by any person or authority. “There is no evidence that the 1st defendant (Gwarzo) used his officer to confer advantage on himself. “The evidence of criminal breach of trust was not established and the evidence of the witnesses was discredited under cross-examination,” the judge said. He added that the evidence led by the prosecution showed that the N115m severance allowance paid to Gwarzo followed his elevation from the position of a Commissioner of SEC to the status of the Director-General, and was in line with a resolution made by the SEC board on July 11, 2002. Justice Baba-Yusuf rejected the prosecution’s argument to the effect that the severance allowance handed to Gwarzo was in excess of what was provided for in the Certain Political, Public and Judicial Office Holders (Salaries and Allowances ETC) Act, 2002. He said the provision of the Certain Political, Public and Judicial Office Holders (Salaries and Allowances ETC) Act, 2002 was not applicable to SEC and that the public officers for who the law was meant to apply had been clearly reflected in the law. The judge said the prosecution’s emphasis on the law was out its ignorance of the powers of the highest decision-making organ of the SEC – the board. He faulted the prosecution’s failure to consider the provisions of the Investments and Securities Acts. Justice Baba-Yusuf noted that the evidence of the first prosecution witness, who was an officer in SEC’s Legal Department, conflicted with evidence of the third and fourth prosecution witnesses. The judge said the first prosecution witness agreed that the payment made to Gwarzo was based on a board resolution, and was therefore correct, since the board was the highest-decision making body of the commission. He said: “The payment was alleged to have been made without authority, but it turned out to have been made upon a resolution of the board of SEC, which is the highest decision making body.” The judge held that there was evidence showing that the N10m car grant Gwarzo got was part of Gwarzo’s entitlement, but that the prosecution failed to prove that he “was instrumental or played active roles in the preparation for the voucher for the payment”.]]>
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