An Abuja High Court sitting at Apo has discharged the former Director-General of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Dr Mounir Gwarzo, of the offence of conferring unfair and corrupt advantage on himself.

The former SEC boss who had a running battle with the Former Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, was in April 2019, discharged of the fraud case filed against him and an Executive Commissioner of the Commission by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC).

Justice Olukayode Adeniyi, who delivered the ruling on an application for a no-case submission, held that the law placed a duty on the prosecution to prove the essential elements of the offence in order to make out a prima facie case.

According to the News agency of Nigeria, the judge said that the prosecution was unable to discharge the said duty and further held that of the 14-count charge, only 6- counts, which were counts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 referred to Gwarzo.

The court ruled that the prosecution was not able to prove through its 4 witnesses that Gwarzo had a private interest in any contract, agreement or investment which came from SEC between 2016 and 2017, in respect of counts 1, 3 and 5.

The court also held that in respect of counts 2, 4 and 6, alleging that the defendant conferred unfair and corrupt advantage on himself, the prosecution witnesses admitted, during cross-examination, that neither the defendant nor his relatives benefitted from the said contracts/awards.

The prosecution witnesses also admitted that they did not investigate the procedure for award of contracts in SEC.

The court in delivering its judgement, discharged Gwarzo on all 6 counts as it held that the prosecution had not made any case to warrant an invitation to the defendant to enter his defence.

What you should know

Recall that in November 2017, the former Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, suspended the then SEC Director-General, Mounir Gwarzo, from office over allegations of corruption and abuse of office which includes allegedly approving  N104 million for himself as a severance package for being a former commissioner of SEC.

The minister then set up an investigative panel to probe the alleged issues and then subsequently arraigned Gwarzo in court by the ICPC on a 14- count charge bordering on the offence of a public officer having a private interest in a contract, agreement or investment emanating from the office he occupies.

He however pleaded not guilty to the charge and at the close of the prosecution’s case, Gwarzo filed an application for a no-case submission rather than enter his defence.

Gwarzo, through his counsel, Tairu Adebayo, had urged the court to hold that the prosecution had not adduced any credible evidence to make the defendant enter any defence.