EFCC to Arraign Hembe, Azubogu Over SEC’s N44 Million Bribery Scandal

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A cartoonist in Nigeria's Vanguard newspaper has little sympathy for bank debtors.

A cartoonist in Nigeria's Vanguard newspaper has little sympathy for bank debtors.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission is telling them: “You keep shouting Human Rights? Human Rights!! What do you think the depositors should be shouting?”

Abuja — An Abuja High Court, yesterday, granted the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, leave to arraign Mr. Herman Hembe, the former Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Capital Market and Other Institutions, over his alleged complicity in a N44 million bribe scandal.

Justice Abubakar Sadiq Umar, who gave the leave yesterday, said he should appear in court on May 17 to enter his plea to a two-count criminal charge preferred against him by the anti-graft agency. Besides, the trial judge equally ordered the erstwhile Vice Chairman of the Reps Committee on Capital Market probe, Mr. Chris Azubogu, to appear in court alongside Hembe.

The court order was sequel to an application EFCC filed against them, pursuant to Section 185(d) of the Criminal Procedure Code, CPC.

Moving the said application yesterday, counsel to the prosecuting agency, Mr. Onejekwu Obe, told the court that EFCC uncovered sufficient evidence capable of securing the conviction of the two lawmakers on allegations bothering on bribery, financial recklessness and misappropriation of public funds.

He said: “My Lord, I hereby apply for leave to prefer criminal charge against the above named accused persons who are sitting lawmakers.

“Further attached herewith are the following documents: a copy of the charge in respect of which leave is sought, as well as the verifying affidavit.

“Other annexures are names and addresses of the witnesses billed to testify before this court; statements of the witnesses; statements of the two accused persons and other documentary evidences which EFCC intend to rely upon in prosecuting this case.”

Justice rules

Ruling on the application, Justice Umar said he was satisfied that the anti-graft agency successfully established a prima-facie criminal case against the accused persons.

Describing the EFCC motion as meritorious, Justice Umar ordered the accused lawmakers to ensure that they appeared before him on May 17 for arraignment.

SEC’s accusation

It would be recalled that the Security and Exchange Commission, SEC, Director-General, DG, Arunma Oteh, had in the heat of the ongoing probe into alleged rot in the Nigerian Capital Market, insisted that Hembe was “unfit” to superintend over the investigative panel, accusing him of bribery and corruption.

Oteh had alleged that Hembe and his panel demanded money totaling N44 million from SEC to fund the public hearing on the unhealthy state of the Nigerian Capital Market.

She alleged that SEC gave Hembe estacode and a first class ticket to attend a capital market conference in the Dominican Republic but did not travel for the event.

‘SEC offered us N30m’

In a swift reaction, Hembe, who subsequently disqualified himself from heading the probe panel on the basis of the allegations, presented documents to the lower legislative House indicating that it was SEC, with Oteh’s approval, that offered N30 million to the committee, contrary to her allegation that the lawmakers demanded bribe.

In a counter move, the SEC DG responded with a letter detailing requests she said was sent to the commission by the House committee.

 

In : Scandal

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