Alleged N170m Fraud: Nigerian Govt Clears Zinox Boss, Wife, Others


Nigerian Government has ordered the withdrawal of the charges purportedly filed by Femi Falana (SAN) against the Chairman, Zinox Group, Leo Stan Ekeh, his wife and a few others based on false information over an alleged N170 million contract fraud with the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) which has seen Mr Benjamin Joseph, owner of Citadel Oracle Concepts Limited, an Ibadan-based ICT retail firm, standing trial for falsely petitioning the Federal Government, alleging that Ekeh and others colluded in defrauding it and his company in executing the contract.

In a state-issued by Zinox Group and made available to Daily Independent, it stated that the directive was issued via the office of the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN) and communicated in a letter dated October 28, 2022, from the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) of the Federation to the law firm of Falana and Falana.

Part of the letter reads: “I am directed to write about the above caption and to inform you that the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice in the exercise of the power conferred upon him by section 174(1)(c) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, as amended, has withdrawn the authorization earlier granted to you dated 10th May 2022 to prosecute the case mentioned below. You are accordingly, requested to withdraw Charge no. FCT/HC/CR/469/2022 in the interest of justice.”

The letter was signed by M. B. Abubakar, Director of Public Prosecutions of the Federation on behalf of the Attorney General and Minister of Justice.

Consequently, by this letter, the Charge No: FCT/HC/CR/469/2022, purportedly filed by Falana & Falana against Mr Leo Stan Ekeh, Chioma Ekeh, Chris Eze Ozims, Shade Oyebode, Charles Adigwe, and others, is no longer tenable and now baseless.  A copy of this letter, which was issued by the FG after a review of the facts of the matter, has been communicated to the chambers of Mathew Burkaa SAN, legal counsel for Mr Ekeh and others, under cover of a letter dated Monday 31st October 2022 from the Office of the DPP of the Federation on behalf of the Attorney General of the Federation, reconfirming the withdrawal of the authorization earlier given to Falana & Falana and directing them to discontinue the said Charge no. FCT/HC/CR/469/2022.

This, therefore, lays to rest the allegations bandied about by Mr Benjamin Joseph of Citadel Oracle Concept Limited, that Mr Ekeh and the other persons mentioned in the various publications are to be arraigned in court on 8th November 2022. Rather, it is on this date that the firm of Falana & Falana is supposed to appear in court and formally withdraw the said Charge no. FCT/HC/CR/469/2022, following the clear directives of the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation.

Conversely, the Honourable AGF, through the Office of the DPP, in a letter dated June 6, 2022, had directed the Inspector General of Police to prosecute Benjamin Joseph to a logical conclusion. The directive came to a couple of weeks after the Attorney General discovered that material information was withheld in the application by Falana & Falana for the authorization earlier granted to prosecute Ekeh and others. Crucially, Mr Falana SAN, who had only recently started representing Benjamin Joseph, failed to disclose to the AGF that the FCT High Court presided by Honourable Justice Damlami Senchi had in February 2021 delivered a judgment in Charge No. FCT/HC/CR/244/2018, dismissed as false and malicious the various allegations put forward by Mr Benjamin Joseph and awarded the sum of N20m against him as damages for false petitioning and to serve as a deterrence to others who may engage in false information to the investigation agencies.  The respected SAN also failed to disclose that his client has refused to be cross-examined since 2018 in an ongoing criminal case (Charge No. CR/216/2016) instituted against him by the Federal Government of Nigeria through the Office of the IGP based on false information on the same allegations. Also, it was not disclosed to the Honourable AGF that the Nigerian Police Force Headquarters had by a comprehensive final report dated 1st December 2020, after a thorough review of the facts of the case, absolved Mr Ekeh and all the aforementioned persons of any criminal liability in the entire transaction leading to this case, but rather recommended the continuation of the trial of Mr Benjamin Joseph which began since 2016.

Consequently, he is due to appear in court on Thursday, November 3, 2022, as directed by the Office of the AGF.


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