Strong details are unfolding as to why the federal government last week withdrew the criminal charges preferred against Elder Godson Orubebe, a former minister in charge of the Ministry of Niger Delta under the Goodluck Jonathan.
It will be recalled, Mr Orubebe was arraigned before the Code of Conduct Tribunal, CCT, on allegations of false declaration of assets.
However, sources close to the polity confirmed that the decision to withdraw the charges was based on a legal advice from the Federal Ministry of Justice in which it was strongly canvassed that the case against Orubebe as presently constructed and filed was fundamentally defective.
The legal advice from the Ministry of Justice was to the effect that since Orubebe was not invited to make a statement on the allegations against him, the process of arraignment was fundamentally flawed.
The legal advice made reference to Section 379 sub-section (1) (a) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015 which listed the information that must be filed by the prosecution before the beginning of trail as including: “copies of statements of the defendant”, proof of evidence, consisting of: the list of witnesses, the list of exhibits to be tendered, summary of statements of the witnesses, and copies of the statement of the defendant.
Another source confirmed that the ministry further argued that without the statement of the defendant, the prosecution may have provided a strong case for the defence legal team to argue that the case be dismissed on technical ground.
The source said: “That case cannot survive because the tribunal judges are not there to help the prosecution to prepare a water tight case. If the prosecution leaves a loose end for the defence team to explore, the judge will have no option than to throw away the case. This has been the bane of the anti-corruption war in this country. That is why the investigators and the prosecution must always do their job diligently if we are going to make a headway in punishing corrupt practices.”