DPP Withdraws Graft Charges Against Ex-Governor Timipre Sylva

Officials of the () today clashed in a Federal Court with ’s () as the DPP showed up in court to quash corruption charges against .

The legal drama also had political ramifications as some observers pointed to the event as a reversal of Muhammadu ’s campaign promise to fight corruption.

A lawyer representing the DPP, O.J. Nnadi, who is a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), shocked the courtroom audience Monday as he moved a motion asking Justice E.S. Chukwu of the in to dismiss all the charges against the former governor.

One lawyer in court told SaharaReporters that today’s incident “marks a disappointing abandonment by the new Muhammadu Buhari-led administration of its avowed policy of fighting corruption.”

According to the lawyer, “Nigerians are going to view this development as a kind of political reward by the [All Progressives Congress] to one of its members, Chief Sylva. Unless this absurd situation is immediately reversed, the Nigerian people’s just expectation of a more vigorous crusade against corruption would have been dealt a huge blow.”

Obviously taken by surprise by the controversial development, the EFCC’s counsel, , reminded the court that the anti-corruption agency had already begun preliminary arguments in the case. He added that he and the EFCC had not been briefed beforehand about the DPP’s plan to withdraw graft charges against Mr. Sylva.

Justice Chukwu discharged and acquitted Mr. Sylva and ordered the EFCC to release his international passport to him.

After the drama in court, the EFCC later stated that the agency had consolidated the charges against the former governor with the intention of filing new charges in the future. However, an EFCC source told SaharaReporters that the statement was only an attempt by the agency to save face after today’s embarrassing drama in court.

The source said he feared that likely would be no new charges against Mr. Sylva, adding that the former governor may have been let off the hook because of his closeness to President Muhammadu Buhari.

Source: SaharaReporters

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