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Court acquits ex-SEC DG Gwarzo of corruption

The Federal High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Apo, Abuja at the weekend upheld the no case submission filed by suspended Director General of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Mounir Gwarzo, discharging him of all corruption allegations.

In a ruling that may reopen Gwarzo’s quest for justice over his suspension, Justice Olukayode Adeniyi of the Federal High Court discharged Gwarzo on all six counts filed against him, as well as the second defendant, Jamila Muhammad.

The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) had arraigned Gwarzo and Muhammad before Justice Olukayode Adeniyi on charges bordering on gratification and abuse of office.

It was alleged that Gwarzo while serving as SEC DG knowingly held a private interest as a director and shareholder of Outbound Investment Limited, a company which was awarded a contract to supply and install units of air conditioners and refrigerators at SEC Lagos zonal office thereby committed an offence contrary to and punishable under Section 12 of Corrupt Practices and Related Offences Act, 2000.

Gwarzo was said to have also used his position as SEC DG to gratify himself when Outbound Investment Limited was awarded the contract to supply and install units of air conditioners and units of refrigerators at SEC Lagos zonal office by the Commission, thereby committed an offence contrary to and punishable under Section 19 of the ICPC Act.

Muhammad on her part, was accused to have, while being a public officer used her position to gratify herself when Outlook Communications Limited, where she was a shareholder and director was awarded a contract by SEC thereby committed an offence contrary to and punishable under Section 19 of the ICPC Act.

That as at the time of the said contracts, the first defendant was still a director or shareholder in Outbound Investment Ltd, especially considering the fact that the prosecution admitted that the first defendant, in his extra-judicial statement had told the investigators that he had resigned and relinquished his shares since 2012.

The court noted that the prosecution did not investigate this. The prosecution witnesses did not show how they came about the CAC documents tendered as they admitted that they did not have any physical interaction with the CAC. They also did not tender the letter by which they applied for CTC of the documents, even though they said they applied to the CAC for the documents.

Furthermore, in respect of Counts two, four and six-allegation that the first defendant conferred unfair and corrupt advantage on himself, the court held that the prosecution witnesses admitted, during cross-examination, that neither the first defendant nor his relatives benefitted from the said contracts and awards. The prosecution witnesses also admitted that they did not investigate the procedure for award of contracts in SEC.

On the whole, the court held that the prosecution had not made any case to warrant an invitation to the first defendant to enter his defence. Gwarzo was accordingly discharged on all six counts.

The court also toed the same line and discharged Muhammad on the remaining eight counts which referred solely to her.

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