Teidi Shuaibu and 39 other persons jointly standing trial for allegedly siphoning N12 billion federal civil servants’ pension funds were on Tuesday discharged by theFederal High Court, Abuja.
Teidi, a former Director of Pension Administration in the Office of the Head of Service of the Federation and others were also standing trial for the missing funds.
In a ruling, Justice Adamu Bello said that the court’s action was at the instance of the prosecution who prayed for separate trial of the suspects.
He said the prosecution had formally withdrawn the old charges against the accused to create room for the filing of fresh ones.
“This is the only workable option and in the light of the above, the case file will be re-assigned by the authority of the Federal High Court,” the judge said. “The 40 accused are hereby discharged and are no more before this court.”
At the resumed hearing in the case, Godwin Obla, the prosecuting counsel, announced that his client gave him an instruction to further break up the accused for separate trial.
“My client has instructed me to withdraw an amended charge dated July 26, 2011 comprising 40 accused persons, to give room for separate trial and good case management.
“We have filed seven sets of charges pursuant to this instruction and will be applying for permission to substitute the earlier charges with the one filed on March 14.
“The application is brought pursuant to sections 155 and 168 of the Criminal Procedure Act (CPA). My Lord, this is to reflect the extent of the alleged complicity and participation of the related parties,’’ Mr. Obla said.
Sunday Ameh led other defendant counsels in the matter to oppose the application. They claimed that the move would erode the progress so far made in the case.
According to them, the former charges should be left to stand as each accused person understands the allegation against him or her.
The accused were first arraigned on March 24, 2011, for allegedly defrauding the pension department, Office of the Head of Service of the Federation, of N12 billion pension funds. They were arraigned on a 134-count charge.
At the close of the proceeding, operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, re-arrested the suspects and took them away.