The federal government has withdrawn the N5 billion corruption charges levelled against a former governor of Gombe State and serving senator, Danjuma Goje, before a Federal High Court sitting in Jos, Plateau State.
The withdrawal of the charges came 29 days after the senator met with President Buhari in Abuja, and at the end of the meeting rested his aspiration to become the next Senate President.
He had reportedly withdrawn from the race to show his loyalty to Buhari and the governing All Progressives Congress (APC), who had already adopted Senate Ahmed Lawan for the position of Senate President.
Reports soon after Goje announced he was stepping down from the race, claimed that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had withdrawn charges of corruption levelled against the senator as part of an agreement for dropping his Senate Presidency ambition.
The EFCC had then denied the claims, describing it as fake news.
However, a Federal High Court sitting in Jos, Plateau State, on Friday quashed the remaining two counts charge preferred by the Federal Government against Goje over allegations of corruption.
The court action was said to have followed an application from the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation, which had on Thursday asked for the withdrawal of the charges.
EFCC had in 2011 filed a 21-count charge against Goje, but 19 of the charges were struck out in March 2019, leaving only two counts.
On September 2018, Justice Babatunde Quadri, presiding over the matter, had in his ruling on the “no-case” submission filed by Goje through his lawyers discharged him and other defendants on 19 of the 21 counts.
He held that Goje and others standing trial with him had a case to answer on counts eight and nine, and ruled that they should open their defence on May 8, 2019.
But soon after the meeting, Goje had with Buhari, leading to his dropping his Senate President ambition, the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation on June 7, took over the case from the EFCC.
Finally when the matter came up on Friday, the counsel from the Office of the Attorney-General, Pius Akutah, told the presiding judge, “My Lord, we have an application having taken over the case and reviewed the 21 count charges of no submission and by the ruling of this court quashed 19 leaving only two count charges in which they are to enter defence.
“As it is, the Federal Ministry of Justice wishes to withdraw those two charges against the accused persons. This action is in line with the power vested in the AGF by virtue of Section 128 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015 particularly sub section 1 of that section (128).
“It’s in accordance with the power vested in the AGF by the constitution that we wish to withdraw the charges before your Lordship. This is our humble application and (we) urge your Lordship to grant our application.”
Since Goje’s counsel, Adeniyi Akintola (SAN), did not oppose the application, the judge in his ruling said, pursuant to Section 174(1) particularly sub-section (b) and coupled with Section 108 (2) of 2015, “the application by the AGF to withdraw the charges is hereby granted.”
“The accused persons are hereby discharged.”
Other defendants in the case were a former executive chairman of the state’s Universal Basic Education Board, Aliyu El-Nafaty; S.M. Dokoro; the ex-governor’s cousin, Sabo Tumu, who is now late and was removed from the charge sheet.