A High Court sitting in the Federal Capital Territory has cleared a UK renowned medical doctor, Dr. Reuben Olu Obaro, and his wife, Ayodele, of corruption, by the Independent and Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC).
In a 33-page ruling on their ‘No-Case Submission’, Justice A.O. Ebong dismissed all the charges against the couple, stating that the case was ‘frivolous’ and “unfair to the defendants, that a charge of this nature, unfounded in all ramifications, should have been brought against them.”
ICPC had, in an eight-count charge, accused the radiologist and his wife, a practising nurse in the UK, of misappropriating part of the funds provided as a seed grant by SURE-P to support the setting up of a specialist stroke management hospital in Nigeria.
ICPC commenced a two-year investigation followed by a full-blown trial, which dragged on for another two years.
During the trial, indications began to emerge that the prosecution had withheld important information from the court to nail the couple at all cost.
However, the couple filed no-case submission when they were to enter for their defence.
Following their application, Justice Ebong, upon examining all the evidence and listening to all the witnesses against the defendants, dismissed the case in totality.
He declared: “Having scaled through all the eight counts of the charge, the three defendants are hereby discharged and acquitted.”
Dubbed the Stephen James Stroke Centre of Excellence, the awarded seed grant was to complement personal funds of the promoters for the development of a world-class specialist hospital for treating stroke patients and managing the rising incidence of stroke in the country and thereby reducing the number of persons travelling outside Nigeria to seek medical help.
The project was designed to be built by funding from personal contributions, investors and both domestic and foreign loans with technical support well established abroad.
In setting up the project, the couple had leveraged their extensive connections with overseas technical partners.
According to Stroke Action Nigeria, stroke continues to affect about 200,000 people annually in the country. The successful setup of the stroke centre would not only have provided critical healthcare to thousands of stroke patients but would have also provided numerous jobs for Nigerians.
“It is common knowledge that at various times the Federal Government has made efforts to rebuild the negative image of our nation in the international arena. This sort of dubious and frivolous attack on the character and reputation of citizens as exemplified in this trial, cannot aid that effort,” said Justice Ebong.
“I believe it is high time for our investigation and prosecuting agencies had a rethink on how they go about exercising their mandates. They should refrain from exercising their powers in a manner that inflicts on the citizens, what could only be described as malicious damage,” he said.
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