Justice Taiwo Taiwo of an Abuja Division meeting of the Federal High Court has ordered the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) to unseal all properties belonging to wife of Haruna Momoh, a former managing director of the Pipelines and Product Marketing Company (PPMC)
The judge made the order on Thursday after discharging and acquitting Mrs. Momoh of the 22 count charges proffered against her by the ICPC.
Mrs. Ochuko Momoh was being prosecuted alongside five others on charges bordering on alleged money laundering.
According to ICPC, the former PPMC managing director in a suit marked FHC/ABJ/CR/278/2019, was accused of laundering the sum of N3 billion through his wife’s companies Blaid Construction and Blaid Farms.
His wife had promised to provide ICPC’s investigators with documents relating to contracts he allegedly executed for the PPMC but she did not fulfil that promise.
An Assistant Chief Investigative Officer with the ICPC who was a witness in the case told the court that the ex-PPMC MD used his wife to allegedly launder $700 million.
While being led in evidence by ICPC’s counsel, the officer said the act was perpetrated between 2012 and 2015 when Mr Haruna was the MD.
On March 9, 2020, Mrs. Momoh was arraigned alongside Blessing Azuka-Ngozi, Stanbic-IBTC Bank Plc, Energopol Nigeria Limited, Blaid Construction Limited and Blaid Farms Limited on a 22-count charge but the charges were later amended to 13 counts.
Stanbic-IBTC Bank was accused of failing to report suspicious transactions in the accounts of Blaid Construction and Blaid Farms to the relevant authorities as required by law.
Following an application by ICPC, The court earlier ordered the interim forfeiture of properties belonging to Mrs. Momoh and her two firms; Blaid Construction and Blaid Farms.
The court had also frozen her bank accounts and that of Blaid Construction and Blaid Farms, her companies.
How the judge ruled
Ruling in the matter, Justice Taiwo held that the case of the anti-corruption agency was based on mere speculation and conjecture.
He said the prosecution failed to prove its allegations against the defendants beyond a reasonable doubt.
Consequently, the court dismissed the money laundering suit filed by the ICPC against the defendants.
The court ordered her banks to unfreeze her accounts and that of her companies. The judge also ordered the discharge of the interim forfeiture order made against Mrs. Momoh and her two firms.
Justice Taiwo also ordered her properties earlier sealed to be unsealed immediately.
“In the final analysis, the case of the prosecution was entirely based on suspicion, without any reliable ground.
“The investigation allegedly carried out was without merit and unable to establish the allegations against the defendants.
“This court holds that it will only rely on probable facts and not suspicion and conjecture as presented by the prosecution in this case.
“The law remains trite that doubts arising from criminal proceedings must be resolved in favour of the defendant.
“Consequently, the prosecution, having failed to discharge its onerous duty of proving the 22-count charge against the defendants beyond reasonable doubt, the defendants are hereby discharged and acquitted of all counts of the charge.” Justice Taiwo held.