A former President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Paul Usoro SAN, has been discharged and acquitted of the N1.4 billion money laundering charge filed against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
He was acquitted of the alleged crime by a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos on Friday, July 16, 2021.
The presiding judge in the matter, Justice Rilwan Aikawa, in his ruling held that the EFCC failed to establish any prima facie case against Usoro that could warrant him to enter a defence.
Justice Rilwan made the decision while ruling on Usoro’s “no case” submission.
According to the judge, the penal code under which Usoro was charged, is not applicable to southern states, i.e Lagos and Akwa-Ibom, which were said to be the locations of the alleged offences.
He said, “On the whole, I hold that the prosecution has failed to establish any prima facie case.
“Accordingly, the defendant is hereby discharged and acquitted.”
The anti-graft agency on February 18 closed its case on the matter after calling two witnesses.
In his response,the defendant, on February 25, filed a no case submission through his counsel Effiong O. Effiong, SAN.
Effiong argued that the reason the EFCC called only two witnesses and closed its case in the matter was because the anti-graft agency knew it had no case against the defendants.
He, therefore, prayed the court to allow the no-case submission.
His prayer was challenged by the prosecution counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, who prayed the court to dismiss the no-case submission, citing the “overwhelming evidence” he said the EFCC had adduced and exhibits admitted in evidence.
However, ruling on Usoro’s “no case” submission on Friday, the court discharged and acquitted the former NBA president.