By Austin Ajayi, Yola
A Court Appeal sitting in Yola, has discharged and acquitted a former Chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, Yola branch, Binanu R. Esthon who was convicted for fraud and sentenced to 3 years imprisonment by the Federal High Court sitting Yola.
In an unanimous decision read by Justice James Shehu Abiriyi, JCA, the Court of Appeal resolved all the issues in favour of the Appellant.
The court hereby set aside the judgment of the low court and ordered the immediate release of the appellant.
In the warrant of discharge from Correctional centre dated 22nd April, 2020, signed the presiding Justice, of Court of Appeal, Justices Chidi Nwaoma Uwa in APEAL NO: CA/YL/194cn/2019 said ” this is to command you to you discharge the said Binanu Runde Esthon so committed, unless he shall be in your custody for some other cause”
The trial court had convicted Mr. Esthon and one Shehu Mustapha who was a litigation secretary in the Adamawa state judiciary.
Accordingly, the decision of the Federal High Court, Yola, per Justice Bilkisu Aliyu (as she then was), delivered on the 26th of September, 2019 was set aside, acquitting the Appellant on all counts.
In 2015 the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission charged Mr. Esthon alongside Shehu Mustapha (a magistrate and former Registrar of the High Court of Justice, Yola division) for conspiracy and fraudulent conversion of the sum of N5,000,000 (five million naira), said to be part of the money recovered by Mr. Esthon on behalf of his clients, who were then employees of Stirling Construction.
Esthon was to spend 3 years and refund 5 million naira while Shehu was sentenced to 3 years and ordered to refund 51 million naira.
Reacting to the judgment, the current Chairman of NBA Yola, Aji Bubakari Kamale commended the court for a thoughtful judgment stressing that must not only done but must have seen to have been done.
Adding that the judgment was a true reflection of pure justice manifested in the face of law and a common man’s understanding of what justice should be.
He congratulated Mr. Esthon and his team of lawyers led by J.K. Gadzama, SAN and Chief L.D. Nzadon.