A Federal High Court in Lagos on Tuesday discharged and acquitted Emirates Airlines and 10 others of complicity in the alleged missing of four bags containing $1.630 million belonging to one, Prince Chu Ikem Orji.
Joined alongside the airline in the 11-count criminal charge were; Pathfinder International Ltd, Nigerian Aviation Handling Company Plc (HAHCO), Abayomi Adekanbi Abiola, Isiaka Adegoke Adedeji, Awonubi Abayomi and Jennifer Eze.
Others were: Obinna Onyeukwu Onyenso, Mohammed Yousouf, George Ikpekhia, and Haffeez Azeem.
In its judgment, the presiding judge, Justice Mohammed Idris, held that the prosecution failed to prove its case against all the defendants beyond reasonable doubts.
Discharging and acquitting the accused, the judge said: “The only issue for determination is whether or not the prosecution has proved its case against the accused persons beyond reasonable doubts. The burden of proof is on the prosecution because the defendants are presumed innocent until the contrary is proved.
“The prosecution cannot go below the level of prove beyond reasonable doubt to achieve conviction of the accused persons. It is only when an accused person has admitted guilt that the burden of proof on the prosecution may be lighter. The reasonable doubt should be real, not imaginative and sentimental.”
The court noted with dismay that the petition written by Orji to lodge complaints about the missing money was contained in a letter-head of a legal practitioner without the lawyer’s name and signature.
“I found out that exhibit A1(petition) on a letter-head was carrying no signature and name of the legal practitioner. No evidential value will be attached to the unsigned documents,” the judge said.
Justice Idris also described the conspiracy offence slammed on the defendants as a fairy tale saying there was no evidence suggesting such collusion. The court said the totality of the evidence of the prosecution does not support the offence of conspiracy.
“There was no evidence on record to show that any of the defendants colluded with the claimant to steal the missing money. There was no evidence that the missing money was placed in the care of any of the defendants,” the judge further held.
The court equally dismissed the offence of stealing on the basis that there was no evidence that the defendants stole anything capable of being stolen.
The court further held that there was no evidence that any of the defendants were in Dubai at any time in order to have nexus with the missing bags.
The court also noted that there was no evidence to show that the accused persons were at the Airport on the day of the incident.
In clearing the accused persons of any complicity, Justice Idris said: “In my view, taking a hard look at this case, I hold that the prosecution has failed to prove any of the counts against each of the defendants. I therefore sustain a verdict of not guilty as charged and the defendants were all discharged and acquitted.”
The defendants were accused of conspiring and stealing four bags with tag numbers; EK 428682, EK 423683, EK 650162 and EK 650161, one of which contained $1.630 million on December 19, 2007 at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos.
11 April, 2018