UK-based health practitioners cleared of fraud charges as judge reprimands ICPC

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A federal capital territory (FCT) high court has dismissed fraud charges brought against Reuben Olu Obaro, a UK-based medical doctor, and his wife Ayodele Obaro, a UK-based nurse.

The couple had sought to establish a health facility in Nigeria called the ‘Stephen James Stroke Centre of Excellence’ for the treatment of stroke patients.

They had applied for and received a seed grant of N450million from the Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme (SURE-P) of the federal government.

In 2018, the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) had dragged the couple to court, preferring an eight-count charge against them. The charges bordered on criminal breach of trust, making false or misleading statements to the commission and frustrating investigation.

Delivering ruling on a no-case submission filed by the defendants, AO Ebong, the judge on the case, dismissed all charges brought against them by the ICPC.

Ebong held that the case was “frivolous” and said “it was unfair for the ICPC to have preferred a charge of this nature, unfounded in all ramifications” against the defendants.

The judge held that the conspiracy charge against Obaro and the Stephen James Stroke Centre cannot stand in the face of the law because the hospital is an artificial body that has no mind of its own and as such cannot conspire with a human being to commit fraud.

The judge described the evidence averred by the five witnesses presented by the ICPC as “unreliable” and cannot be used by a reasonable court of law to convict anybody.

“I find no evidence to support the eight-count charges against the defendants and I pronounced them not guilty of the charges,” the judge said.

“The petition by one Musa Dankano which led to the charge made no complaint against the defendants but against staff of Sure-P secretariat, adding that there is also no report from any government agency indicting the defendants for mismanaging the grant.

“This sort of dubious and frivolous attack on the character and reputation of renowned persons like the defendants cannot help the federal government to get deserved foreign investors it is yearning for.

“Our investigators and prosecuting agencies should have a rethink on how they go about exercising their power so as not to inflict injuries on the citizens through malicious damage.”

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