16 May 2014, Benin City – A Court of Appeal sitting in Benin, the Edo State capital, on Thursday upturned the “infamous ruling” given by Justice Awokulehin which acquitted a former governor of Delta State, James Ibori, of a 170-count of money laundering levelled against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
Justice Ibrahim Saulawa, who led a panel of three judges, said the decision was predicated on four grounds.
Saulawa while upturning the ruling said, “First, the trial judge, (Awokulehin), looked at the proof of evidence and evaluated same as if the prosecution had called all his witnesses and trial had been concluded. Second, the procedure is by way of summary trial and not trial by indictment or information.”
He added that the proof of evidence clearly showed that a prima facie case had been established against the accused and that Awokulehin had erred when he held that no case was established against Ibori.
He described the judgment as “unwarranted, unreasonable and against the weight of proof of evidence filed by the prosecution in support of the charges.”
By the ruling of the Appeal Court, Ibori is expected to, upon his return to the country, face a fresh trial before a Federal High Court. He is currently serving a 13-year jail term in a London prison.
– The Punch