The Court of Appeal yesterday discharged and acquited a former Chairman of the House Committee on capital market, Mr Herman Hembe who was charged with converting an estimated N600,000 given to him by the Securities and Exchange Commission, SEC, for him to travel to the Dominican Republic, for a refresher conference in October 2011.
In a unanimous decision, the Court of Appeal upheld the argument of Mr Jilbrin Okutepa, SAN to the effect that Hembe did not commit any offence to warrant him facing trial.
Justice Joseph Tine-Tur who delivered the lead judgment said that what the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) did was not prosecution but persecution.
He held that the proof of evidence and the evidence given by the witnesses called by? EFCC did not establish a prima facie case against Hembe.
The court also said that the high court judge who granted leave to EFCC to begin Hembe’s prosecution erred and should not have granted such leave.
He described Hembe’s trial as a waste of precious judicial time.
He consequently quashed the charges and discharged and acquitted him.
Hembe and his deputy, Chris Azubogu were charged with alleged conversion of Estacodes given to them by SEC to travel abroad for a conference.
They had repeatedly maintained their innocence but the Abuja High Court disagreed with them and dismissed their application to quash the charges.
Yesterday, the Appeal Court agreed with Hembe.
It held that they did not commit an offence.
The court held that at best, what transpired was an administrative oversight for which Hembe could have been asked to make a refund.
EFCC had re-arraigned the accused lawmakers, on offences bordering on alleged conversion into personal use, an estimated N600,000 being money allegedly released by the Securities and Exchange Commission, SEC, for them to travel to the Dominican Republic, for a refresher conference in October 2011.