Former Gombe governor Danjuma Goje was the fiercest contender for the senate presidency against the annointed candidate from the ruling APC, Ahmed Lawan. But this week he suddenly stepped down from the race and endorsed Lawan following a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari.
As if by clockwork, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), without giving reasons, withdrew from the money laundering case it filed to prosecute Goje, and handed it over to the office of the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice.
How it happened: When the eight-year old case was called for an emergency hearing before Justice Babatunde Quadri of the Jos Federal High Court, the EFCC counsel, Wahab Shittu, said even though the case had earlier been adjourned to June 20th for further hearing, “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.”
- Of course Goje’s counsel did not oppose the application.
Why it matters: The attorney from the office of the AGF who took over the case, Pius Asike, asked the court to give him time to prepare for the case. So technically the case is still on. But the abrupt withdrawal without reasons has raised questions about the motives of the federal government and whether sabotaging the case against Goje was the trade-off made with the influential senator in return for his stepping down.
Between the lines: An online newspaper, Sahara Reporters, had reported before any of this happened that President Muhammadu Buhari planned to drop the case against Goje in exchange for his stepping down from the race. The paper quoted unnamed EFCC sources.