The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) has asked the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court to overrule a No-Case Submission filed by the suspended Director-General of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Mounir Gwarzo, and a former Executive Commissioner of the agency, Zakawanu Garuba.
In a statement signed by its spokesperson, Rasheedat Okoduwa, the commission said “In an amended charge filed before Justice Hussaini Baba Yusuf, the prosecuting counsel, Raheem Adesina, asked the defendants to explain the issue of severance package benefits that were paid to Mr Gwarzo.
According to the statement, “Before the counsel adopted their written addresses, the prosecuting counsel drew the attention of the court to the amended charge which was granted and the defendants took a fresh plea.
“The prosecuting counsel also moved a motion for extension of time to file his written address which was not opposed by the defence counsel.”
Following this, Mr Adesina’s request was granted by the court.
“Thereafter the counsel to the defendants, Abdulhakeem Mustapha and Robert Emupkoeruo, adopted their written addresses before asking the court to uphold the No-Case Submission and discharge the defendants.”
The commission said Mr Adesina also adopted his written address and urged the court to dismiss the No-Case Submission for lacking merit.
He argued that the defendants relied heavily on ICPC’s Exhibit 3 to justify the payment of severance benefits to Mr Gwarzo whereas the document never mentioned severance benefit.
Adesina also argued that what was decided in the exhibit were retirement and resignation benefits for political appointees who have spent at least two years in SEC.
He concluded that the word ‘severance’ was smuggled into the document purposely to confer a corrupt advantage on Mr Gwarzo because at the time he collected the money, he was neither retired nor resigned from SEC.
Gwarzo is facing multiple charges that include using his office to confer an undue advantage upon himself by receiving N104.9 million as severance allowance from SEC while still in the employment of the agency.
Mr Garuba is charged with conferring an undue advantage on a public officer, which is contrary to Section 19 of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2000, the statement added.
Part of the charge reads; “That you Dr Mounir Haliru Gwarzo (M) between May and June 2015 or thereabouts at Abuja within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, during the period of your appointment as the Director-General of the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC), being entrusted with the management of SEC did commit criminal breach of trust to wit: dishonestly misappropriating the sum of N104,851,154.94 (One Hundred and Four Million, Eight Hundred and Fifty One Thousand, One Hundred and fifty four Naira and Ninety Four Kobo), as your severance package which you were not entitled to, and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 311 and punishable under 312 of the Penal Code Act Cap 532 volume 4 Laws of the Federal Capital Territory Abuja, 2007”.
“That you Zakawany Garuba (M) on or about June 2015 or thereabouts at Abuja within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, while being a public officer as a Commissioner in the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) used your position to confer a corrupt advantage upon another public officer to wit: approving the sum of N104,851,154.94( One Hundred and Four million, Eight Hundred and Fifty-One Thousand, One Hundred and Fifty-Four Naira Ninety-Four Kobo) as severance package to the then Director-General of SEC; Dr Mounir Haliru Gwarzo which he was not entitled to and you thereby committed an offence contrary to and punishable under 19 of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act 2000”.
The judge adjourned the ruling to April 12, adding that the defendants’ bail should continue.