The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, has apologized to Nicholas Ashinze for giving wrong figures to the media and describing him as a retired officer.
Justice Gabriel Kolawole of Federal High Court Abuja had on March 21 lambasted the EFCC for media trial, giving wrong figures of the money Mr Ashinze is accused of diverting and therefore asked the commission to retract its statement.
Counsel to Mr Ashinze, Ernest Nwoye, had at the resumed trial protested the press statement issued by EFCC in which the defendant was reported to have been indicted by the court for diverting and misappropriating a whopping sum of N36billion.
Apart from the alleged N36bn said to have been diverted and misappropriated, the EFCC statement also referred to Mr Ashinze as a retired colonel, while he is still a serving colonel.
The counsel who drew the attention of Justice Gabriel Kolawole to the offending EFCC press statement, tendered the statement and the newspaper publications at the court to establish bias and misrepresentation of the court proceeding of March 7 by the anti-graft agency.
Mr Nwoye told the Judge that Mr Ashinze was never charged by EFCC for any offence on N36billion diversion and misappropriation and wondered where EFCC Media team, that was not present in the court, got its proceeding that the defendant had been indicted for the amount.
In a statement on Tuesday, EFCC spokesman Wilson Uwujaren said the error in the figure was not deliberate.
“At the resumed hearing on March 21, the defence brought to the notice of court, the press release of March 8 by the EFCC where the amount involved in the case was given as N38.6bn and the first defendant, Ashinze addressed as retired Colonel. Upon this observation the court ordered the Commission to publish a retraction and adjourned to April 13.
“The Commission states that the error in figure was a mix-up in the body of the release as the headline reflected the correct information. The reference to Ashinze as retired is regretted. We have since discovered that he is a serving Colonel in the Nigerian Army,” Mr Uwujaren said.