Search Site: OnlineNigeria

Close






Balogun, EFCC in Plea Bargain Deal

Posted by From George Oji in Abuja on 2005/08/17 | Views: 275 |

Balogun, EFCC in Plea Bargain Deal


There are indications that the embattled former Inspector General of Police, Mr. Tafa Balogun, who is currently standing trial for alleged stealing, money laundering and gratification is already negotiating a plea bargain deal with his prosecutors, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

There are indications that the embattled former Inspector General of Police, Mr. Tafa Balogun, who is currently standing trial for alleged stealing, money laundering and gratification is already negotiating a plea bargain deal with his prosecutors, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

The arrangement when fully ratified by both parties would entail Balogun forfeiting the money, stocks and property worth N17 billion already seized from him to the Federal Government in exchange for mitigated punishment.
Plea bargain, which involves criminal cases and mainly practised in developed countries, if agreed upon in this case may ensure that Balogun does not go through the full rigours of a criminal trial.

Balogun is facing a criminal trial for alleged stealing and money laundering at the Federal High Court, Abuja and another on gratification at the Abuja High Court.
While the case at the Federal High Court is a 50 count-charge of theft and money laundering involving over N13 billion, the Abuja High Court suit is a 92-count charge of gratification.
THISDAY reliably gathered that counsel to Balogun and those of EFCC were already scheduled to meet today in Abuja to possibly work out details of the agreement.
When contacted on the deal, one of Balogun's counsel, Dr. Tunji Abayomi denied knowledge of it, saying, "I am not aware of any such arrangement."
But after speaking with EFCC's counsel Mr. Rotimi Jacobs, Abayomi later told THISDAY that a meeting between EFCC and Balogun's lawyers had been scheduled for Abuja today and that, "may be the issue might come up at the meeting."
He said it was good for both parties that such arrangement is ratified because, "the trial is bad for both parties."
According to him since the charges against Balogun border mostly on gratification, it would be difficult for EFCC to prove those charges.
Abayomi nonetheless admitted to THISDAY that Balogun's camp had earlier proposed the plea bargain to EFCC, but that for reasons he could not fathom, the proposal appeared unattractive to the Commission then.
Ribadu, the EFCC boss, was said to have had a change of mind on the deal when speculations became rife that he was only persecuting Balogun to settle scores over certain problems they both had in the police.
"The EFCC chairman wants to use the peace deal to convince sceptics that he has nothing personal against his ex-boss. He believes he is only doing his job and that after recovering ill-acquired wealth by a public official then, the entire case is almost resolved," a source said.
Since the former IGP's trial commenced five months ago in April, it had been attended by one legal obstruction or another such that the accused is yet to take a plea on any of the charges.
Abayomi had opposed the reading of the charges against Balogun on the grounds that the court lacks jurisdiction to entertain the matter. He also argued that the charges are duplicated and that EFCC had been unable to establish a prima facie evidence against the former police boss.
He described the entire trial as amounting to nothing short of persecution instead of prosecution.
EFCC on its part has consistently insisted that the trial is in order and that the court has the powers to hear the matter.
EFCC's counsel, Jacobs, even described Balogun's arguments as amounting to mere diversionary tactics, meant to frustrate the court trial.
The legal ding dung between EFCC and Balogun dragged on to the point of infuriating the trial judge, Mr. Justice Salisu Garba who openly expressed despair in court at the pace of the trial.
"I am tired of this trial," the learned trial judge had complained during one of the hearings.
In course of the trial on June 29, Balogun slumped in court and was immediately rushed to the hospital where he is currently recuperating. The incident according to Abayomi was the outcome of the assault of the former police boss by EFCC's security operatives.
Abayomi also promptly petitioned President Olusegun Obasanjo alleging persecution of his client by EFCC. He sought the president's intervention to halt the trend.
Reacting to Balogun's alleged ordeal in the hands of EFCC's security operatives, Nuhu Ribadu said Balogun was merely playing out scripted antics aimed at stalling his trial.
Speaking to newsmen on the matter, Ribadu said the aim of Balogun's "drama" in court was to sufficiently sway public sympathy in his favour to make continuation of his trial impossible.
He said since the Commission recovered N17.7 billion from Balogun, it was instructive that the former Inspector General of Police has not made any efforts to collect back the money, but is instead willing to forfeit the entire sum.
Ribadu said Nigerians should be concerned that more than four months after he was charged, the accused has not taken plea on the charges let alone allow trial to commence. The EFCC boss said he had investigated the alleged manhandling of Balogun by his operatives, including watching the video clips of the Abuja High Court incident and discovered that Balogun slumped on instructions from his counsel, Abayomi.
He said the commission had information that the essence of Balogun's antics was to create the Maurice Ibekwe-like scenario and seek court's permission to allow him travel abroad for medical treatment, a move that the former police boss will capitalise on, to escape trial.
Balogun was alleged to have perpetrated the N13 billion theft using eight different companies, which were either wholly owned by him or where he had interests. The companies include Yeboa Investment Limited, Caledonian Telecommuni-cations Ltd, Renovations constructions Ltd and Aworo Investment Ltd. Others are Olatrade Ltd, Yeboa Nigeria Ltd and Ceejay Properties Nigeria Ltd.
Balogun, according to the charges used the said N13 billion, being Nigeria Police money to either buy shares in blue chip companies or buy choice houses across the country, particularly in Lagos and Abuja.
The companies where Balogun bought the said shares included Nigeria Breweries, First Bank of Nigeria Plc, Union Bank Plc, Fountain Trust Bank and Guinness Nigeria Plc. For the landed property, Balogun invested in the high brow Park View Estate, Ikoyi, Victoria Garden City, Victoria Island, Gariki, Wuse and Maitama areas of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

Read Full Story Here.... :
Leave Comment Here :



Add Comment

* Required information
1000
Captcha Image

Comments (3)

Gravatar
New
Abieyuwa(Edo, Nigeria)says...

Otasowie means evening life is better than morning life. There is an error in your “evening life is better than evening life”?

Gravatar
New
Naija g(Houston, Minnesota, US)says...

Sokari doesn’t mean joy. Joy is Biobela. Go to the village and ask the meaning of the name.

Gravatar
New
Fay(Katy, Texas, US)says...

Actually translates to bravehearted.