A Sokoto state high court has discharged and acquitted Attahiru Bafarawa, a former governor of Sokoto state, of corruption charges.
Also acquitted at the court’s sitting on Tuesday are Beedash Nigeria Limited, Nasdabap Nigeria Limited, Nasiru Dalhatu Bafarawa and Salihu Maibuhu Gummi.
They were being tried by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on a 22-count charge bordering on conspiracy, criminal misappropriation, theft and receiving of stolen funds.
The commission accused Bafarawa, who served as governor between 1999 and 2007, of misappropriating and embezzling funds to the tune of N15 billion.
But Bello Abbas, the judge handling the case, dismissed all the charges against the accused. The judge said the EFCC failed to prove the allegations beyond reasonable doubt.
The commission has rejected the court judgement and said it will appeal it.
Wilson Uwujaren, EFCC spokesman, described the ruling as “shocking and unacceptable”.
“The commission believes that the judge erred in law and has mandated its counsel to immediately appeal the ruling at the court of appeal,” he said in a statement.
“In the course of the trial, the EFCC had called nine witnesses and presented several documents that were admitted in evidence while the defendants called only six witnesses.
“Surprisingly, Justice Abbas discharged and acquitted the accused persons of all counts on the premise that the evidence presented by the prosecution were mere hearsay and that there was no documentary evidence to back up the claim of witnesses.”
The anti-graft agency described the judgement as “the climax in the series of twists and turns” that the trial had witnessed over the last nine years.