A spokesman for the Economic And Financial Crime Commission Saturday said he was not aware the anti-graft agency has withdrawn its case against Senator Danjuma Goje.
The former governor of Gombe State was until Thursday a contender for the post of the president of the Nigerian Senate.
He withdrew from the race after meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari and immediately endorsed his rival Ahmed Lawan.
Goje is facing a 21-count charge of misappropriation of N25 billion when he was the governor of Gombe in northeast Nigeria.
Less than 24 hours after his meeting with Buhari, EFCC lawyers told the court on Friday that the Commission was transferring Goje’s case to the office of the attorney-general of the country.
Nigeria currently does not have an attorney-general and minister of justice as President Buhari is yet to appoint ministers since he was sworn in more than a week ago.
When the eight-year-old case came up for an emergency hearing before Justice Babatunde Quadiri of Jos Federal High Court II on Friday instead of the original schedule of June 20, the lead counsel for EFCC in the case Wahab Shittu said the Commission was no longer prosecuting the case.
“We as EFCC counsels are withdrawing from the matter and handing it over to the office of the Attorney-General for continuation with the prosecution,” Shittu told the court.
“As you can, in Court today is a State Counsel from the AGF’s office to formally take over this case from us.“
EFCC spokesman Tony Orilade told The Guardian on Saturday morning that he was not aware the case has been transferred to the Office of the Attorney-General.
“So, I don’t have any information to give out,” Orilade said. “As soon as I have information in respect thereof, I shall contact you immediately.”
In another text message sent to another The Guardian reporter, Orilade categorically denied that the EFCC withdrew from the case. He, however, claimed that the Office of the Attorney-General has the right to take over such cases.
“We did not withdraw from any case,” Orilade said. “It is constitutional for the AGF to take over any criminal case at any level.”
Critics said the EFCC withdrawal from the case and subsequent takeover by government’s lawyers may be part of the deal reached by the former governor for him to step down for Ahmed Lawan.
They said the takeover of the case by government’s lawyers will stall or kill the case totally.
But Goje said on Friday that he had no deal with President Buhari and that he stepped for Lawan because of the respect he had for the party and the president.
He also denied being threatened by the Presidency to support his rival.
“To say that I have been threatened to support somebody, no,” Goje said.
“I am supporting Lawan based on my own conviction that I am doing the right thing for our country, for our president.”