The Economic Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), on Thursday, withdrew the money laundering charge preferred against Olasupo Shasore, SAN, following a directive by the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Lateef Fagbemi, SAN.
EFCC’s counsel, Bala Sanga, informed Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court, upon resumed hearing, that his office notified him as prosecuting lawyer that there was a letter from the AGF requesting the anti-graft agency to withdraw the charge.
Mr Sanga, who said the letter would be brought to court, prayed the court to stand down the matter to await its delivery, and the judge granted the request.
When the court reconvened, the prosecution presented copies of the letter to the judge and the defence counsel, Olawale Akoni, SAN.
“Based on the AGF’s directive, we apply to withdraw the case,” Mr Sanga told the court.
Mr Akoni, who did not object to the oral application, said, “We will humbly be asking the defendant to be discharged.”
Mr Ekwo consequently ordered the withdrawal of the charge and discharged Mr Shasore, a former Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Lagos State.
He said, “Upon being shown a letter from the AGF dated 23rd of November and the application by the prosecution counsel that the matter be withdrawn, the charge is hereby withdrawn and the defendant discharged.”
The AGF’s letter personally signed by Mr Fagbemi, which was addressed to the executive chairman of EFCC, was captioned: “RE: Review of All Civil and Criminal Proceedings Between Process and Industrial Developments Ltd (P&ID) and Federal Republic of Nigeria (FRN).”
The cases were listed as charge number: FHC/L/447C/2022 – FRN Vs. Olasupo Shasore, SAN; charge number: FHC/ABJ/CR/386/2022 – FRN Vs. Middlesex Investments Ltd and charge number: ID/19657C/2022 – FRN Vs. Olasupo Shasore, SAN.
The letter, with reference number DPPA/OLASUPO/345/23, informed the EFCC “that the above charges were being reviewed in the light of recent developments in Process & Industrial Developments Limited vs. The Federal Republic of Nigeria (CL-2018-000182) and The Federal Republic of Nigeria vs. Process & Industrial Developments Limited (CL-2019-000752).
“Consequently, you are hereby directed, pursuant to the provisions of sections 105(1) & 108(1) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015, to withdraw the said charges with immediate effect and revert on compliance promptly.”
Mr Shasore was standing trial in Abuja and Lagos State on alleged money laundering offences.
The ex-Lagos AG was, on November 4, 2022, arraigned on a 14-count money laundering charge before Justice Ekwo of Abuja court.
In the charge marked FHC/ABJ/CR/386/22 filed on August 17, 2022, Middlesex Investments Ltd and Shasore were the first and second defendants, respectively.
Mr Shasore was alleged to be a director and a signatory to the company’s Guaranty Trust Bank account number: 0005659394.
The former commissioner, however, pleaded not guilty to the offences and was granted bail in terms of the administrative bail earlier granted him by the EFCC.
On October 20, 2022, Mr Shasore was arraigned before Chukwujekwu Aneke, judge of the Ikeja Special Offences Court, on a two-count charge bordering on alleged money laundering.
Hours later, the former AG was arraigned before Mojisola Dada, judge of the Federal High Court in Lagos, on a four-count alleged money laundering charge.
On October 23, a business and property court in London presided over by Justice Robin Knowles of the Commercial Courts of England and Wales quashed the $11 billion awarded against Nigeria in a case filed by P&ID.
Judge Knowles held that the award was obtained by fraud and that what had happened in the case was contrary to public policy.
The court also declared that it did not find any merit in the charges of bribery levelled against Mr Shasore, who represented Nigeria in the arbitration.
The federal government had, in the case marked CL-2019-000752, sought to overturn the $6.6 billion arbitration awarded in favour of P&ID in 2017.
The award had continued to accrue interest since then, rising to approximately $11 billion before the judgment.