The Federal government has appealed Abuja High Court ruling that discharged and acquitted the suspended employee of government by the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation, Innocent Bola Audu, over his involvement in a trafficking related offence.
Bala Audu and three others according to the Federal government appeal notice, were earlier charged and tried on allegation of “conspiracy to abuse of position of vulnerability and abuse of position of vulnerability contrary to Sections 13 (2) and 27 of the Trafficking in Persons (Prohibition) Enforcement and Administration Act, 2015, but was acquitted.
The appeal was filed through government legal representative, Liman, Liman & Co, Legal Practitioners & Notaries Public.
Explaining the reason for the appeal, the Appeal notice said; “Appellant being dissatisfied with the ruling of the High Court of Justice of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja delivered on 18th day of April, 2023 in charge No. CR/080/2021 between the Federal Republic of Nigeria v. Innocent Bola Audu & 3 Ors Coram: Hon. Justice O. C. Agbaza, FG doth hereby appeal to the Court of Appeal, upon the Grounds stated in paragraph 3 and will upon hearing of the appeal, seek the reliefs set out in paragraph 4.”
The notice also State that the appeal is against “The whole decision of the High Court which upheld the “No Case Submission” of the snd consequently discharge and acquit the respondents of the charges against them.
The notice further said; “The appeal sought for an order setting aside the Lower Court’s decision, discharging and acquitting the Accuseds/Respondents.”
Furthermore, the appeal notice gave grounds on which it want the Court of Appeal to set aside the lower court ruling.
“The Learned trial judge erred in law when in determining the No Case Submission of the Respondents went into the merit of the case as though the Appellant was required to have proved the case against the Respondents beyond reasonable doubt instead of a mere prima facile case thus plunging himself into an abyss of error and consequently occasioning a substantial miscarriage of Justice to the Appellant.
“The learned trial Judge erred in law when he misconceived the charge against the Respondent to be that of an offence of Surrogacy merely because the word “Surrogacy” was mentioned in the cause of the trial thus plunging himself into an abyss of error and consequently occasioning a substantial miscarried of justice to the Appellant.
“The Learned trial judge erred in law when he held that the Respondents where right to have challenged the validity of the charge upon which the are standing trial through their No Case Submission thus plunging himself onto an abyss of error and consequently occasioning a substantial miscarriage of Justice to the Appellant.”
Meanwhile, a Non-Governmental Organisation under the aegis of Anti-Corruption Outreach for MASS mobilization and Action Against Corruption, has raised alarm over an alleged move by some powerful individuals within the Office of the Account General of the Federation (OAGF), to reinstate Innocent Bola Audu into the Federal Civil Service despite his suspension because of the ongoing criminal charges against him by the Federal government.
In separate letters signed by its Executive Director, Ekwoyi Ochigbo, addressed to the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Chairman, Federal Civil Service Commission and the Accountant General of the Federation respectively, urged these principal Federal government offices to uphold the rule of laws and prevent any form of illegal process by any person or group of persons in name of reinstating a civl servant (Innocent Bola Audu), until he is cleared of all wrong doing by law.
The letters in part read; We are a Non-Governmental Organisation whose mandate is the promotion of accountability, rule of law, probity in the public service.
“We are bringing to your urgent attention moves being made by self acclaimed powerful individuals in the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation (OAGF) with the condemnable intent to hood-wink Government officials at the Federal Civil Service Commission (FCSC) into believing that the Federal Government of Nigeria has abandoned its criminal prosecution of Innocent Bola Audu with the ultimate aim of “helping” him back to the service in flagrant violation of extant provision of the Public Service Rules 030411(a) (i) and (ii).
“The Federal Government of Nigeria, against the unfounded rumor, has not abandoned nor stopped the criminal prosecution of Innocent Bola Audu. As a matter of fact, the prosecution is ongoing and is pending at the Court of Appeal. Find attached a copy of the Notice of Appeal with Appeal No. CA/ABI/CR/704/23 and charge No. CR/0802021 dated 11th May, 2023 for your information, perusal and necessary action.
“Members of this cult like group who are in the Disciplinary Department of the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation and who pride themselves as influential, powerful and well-connected across MDAs have evidently assured Innocent Bola Audu not to worry that they have the wherewithal to circumvent checks and balances in the disciplinary process in the service through planned use of monumental deceit, blackmail, propaganda and other illegal methods to get Innocent Bola Audu suspension lifted and salary restored not withstanding that the criminal prosecution of Innocent Bola Audu by the Federal Government ofNigeria is ongoing at the Court of Appeal.
“In view of the foregoing, and the urgent need to discourage the activities of the mafia like group who act like cult to protect their members in the Service we hereby demand: That the Honourable Chairman, Federal Civil Service Commission should not fall for the ploy of this gang to restore Innocent Bola Audu back to Service in the face of his ongoing prosecution by the Federal Government of Nigeria. Doing so will violate the extant provision of the Public Service Rules 030411(a) (i) and (ii).
“That the Honourable Chairman, Federal Civil Service Commission should initiate a novel process that will fish out Public Servants who are working tirelessly to shield Innocent Bola Audu from justice without due process. We anticipate that prompt action will be taken on our demands to forestall a nationwide protest which could erupt without any notice if Innocent Bola Audu is smuggled back to the service while he is undergoing prosecution by the Federal Government of Nigeria as being boasted by the mafia like group in the Office Of the Accountant General of the Federation.”