Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court Abuja has discharged Nicholas Ashinze, a former aide of former National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki, of money laundering allegations.
The ruling of the court followed the withdrawal of the case by the office of the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Abubakar Malami.
At the day’s proceedings, counsel for the AGF, David Kaswe, told the court that he had the approval Malami to take over the case.
He said this was in accordance with section 174(1)(a) and (c) of the 1999 constitution (as amended).
Counsel for the EFCC, Offem Uket, said although he was unaware of the change, he was not opposed to the application.
After taking over the suit, Kaswe moved a motion for the withdrawal of the criminal charge against the defendants.
Counsel for the defendants, Afam Osigwe, Patrick Agu and Anita Isato, did not oppose Kaswe’s application.
They, however, prayed the court for a consequential order acquitting their clients.
Osigwe, who represented the second, fourth, fifth, and sixth defendants, argued that considering the facts and circumstances of the case and including the number of years spent, the court should exercise its discretionary powers in acquitting the defendants.
But the AGF’s counsel, opposed the application for an order of acquittal and prayed that they be discharged.
Delivering the ruling, Justice Okon Abang, held that the prosecution had not closed their case before the application for withdrawal was made.
“The court cannot be satisfied on the merit of the case except the prosecution closed their case and the defendants testified in their defence and called their witnesses,” he said.
Consequently, Abang struck out the amended charge and discharged the defendants.
Ashinze was arraigned alongside Wolfgang Reinl, an Austrian security consultant; Sagir Mohammed, a retired military intelligence officer; and Edidiong Idiong, a legal practitioner,
They were re-arraigned by the EFCC on a 13-count money laundering charge to the tune of N1.8 billion in October 2017.
The money was alleged to have emanated from the office of the former NSA where Ashinze served as special assistant.
They, however, pleaded not guilty to all the counts preferred against them.