JUSTICE Charles Agbaza of a High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) sitting in Maitama, Abuja, has discharged and acquitted the President of the Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria (ASCSN), Comrade Innocent Bola-Audu, and three others, from charges bordering on human trafficking.
ThisDay newspaper reports that Justice Agbaza in a judgment delivered on Tuesday, April 18, 2023, cleared the defendants on the grounds that the prosecution failed to link them with the alleged offenses.
The National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) had dragged the four civil servants before the court over their alleged involvement in human trafficking in 2021.
The workers include Innocent Bola-Audu, a Chief Accountant on Grade Level 14, and Cecilia Aneke, an Assistant Executive Officer on Grade Level 13, and one other. The defendants had pleaded not guilty after they were arraigned on July 7, 2021 and were subsequently granted bail.
However, after the prosecution closed its case the defendants through their counsel filed a no-case submission, claiming that the prosecution failed to prove the ingredients of the charge.
In his ruling yesterday, the court agreed with the submissions of the defendants that the prosecution clearly failed to link them with the charge.
“The prosecution has not clearly been able to link the defendants with the charge brought against them. I find it difficult to come to terms with the prosecution on the charges and in his argument against the defendants. There is no evidence before this Court linking the defendants with the offence. The prosecution failed to establish a case of human trafficking against the defendants. The defendants are hereby discharged and acquitted,” Justice Agbaza held.
Speaking with journalists after his discharge by the Court, Bola-Audu said the case preferred against him and three others by NAPTIP was politically-motivated to malign him but he was happy that he has been vindicated.
He thanked members of ASCSN who stood by him while his travails lasted, promising not to let them down as he will continue to provide purposeful leadership for the association.