The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has announced its decision to appeal the recent ruling by Justice Nnamdi Dimgba of the Federal High Court. This ruling acquitted Abiodun Agbele, an associate of former Ekiti State Governor Ayodele Fayose, along with three companies connected to him, in a ₦1.2 billion money laundering case.

The case revolves around the alleged laundering of ₦1.2 billion, which is part of a larger sum of ₦4.7 billion. This money, which belongs to the Federal Government, was reportedly transferred from an account linked to the Office of the National Security Adviser (NSA) in the Central Bank of Nigeria. The companies involved—Sylvan Mcnamara Limited, De Privateer Limited, and Spotless Investment Limited—were also named in the case as respondents.

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On June 21, 2024, Justice Dimgba upheld the no-case submission made by Agbele, ruling that there was insufficient evidence to proceed with the charges against him and the associated companies. This decision prompted the EFCC to take immediate steps to challenge the ruling, filing a notice of appeal through its prosecuting counsel, Senior Advocate Wahab Shittu.

The EFCC’s notice of appeal is comprehensive, listing 17 grounds on which it believes the trial court erred. The commission is seeking two key reliefs from the Court of Appeal. Firstly, it wants the appellate court to overturn Justice Dimgba’s ruling and to find that Agbele and the companies have a case to answer on numerous counts. Specifically, the EFCC is challenging the acquittal on counts 1, 3 through 24 of the amended charges.

Secondly, the EFCC is requesting an order that would compel Agbele and the companies to enter their defense before the trial court on the specified counts of the amended charge. The commission has expressed its strong dissatisfaction with the entirety of the lower court’s decision, particularly highlighting paragraph 2 of the June 21 ruling as problematic.

In its appeal, the EFCC argues that there is overwhelming evidence demonstrating that the funds—₦1.219 billion—originated from the NSA’s account and were intended for security purposes. Instead, these funds were allegedly diverted by Agbele and the companies to support Fayose’s governorship campaign.

The EFCC contends that both oral and documentary evidence admitted during the trial clearly show that the respondents unlawfully retained, transferred, and took possession of significant sums of money, contradicting the trial court’s ruling that they had no case to answer.

The commission’s appeal underscores its commitment to ensuring accountability and combating corruption, particularly in cases involving high-profile individuals and substantial sums of public funds. The outcome of this appeal will be closely watched, as it has significant implications for the ongoing fight against corruption in Nigeria.

The EFCC’s determination to challenge the acquittal highlights the complexities and challenges inherent in prosecuting financial crimes, especially when powerful political figures are involved. As the legal battle continues, it remains to be seen how the appellate court will rule on these substantial issues raised by the EFCC.

Further developments in this case will be crucial in shaping the public perception of the judiciary’s role in addressing corruption and the effectiveness of the EFCC’s efforts to hold individuals accountable for financial misconduct. The stakes are high, and the legal proceedings will undoubtedly draw significant attention from both the public and the media, given the prominent figures and substantial amounts of money involved.