Alleged corruption: Court frees Enugu heart surgeon

By Ted Peters on 08/12/2017

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Professor Martin Agbaji
Professor Martin Agbaji

An Enugu State High Court sitting in Enugu has discharged and acquitted a former Consultant Cardiothoracic Surgeon at the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital, UNTH,  Enugu, Professor Martin Aghaji, who was standing trial for allegedly demanding and receiving gratification in the course of discharging his official duties.

Aghaji, who specializes in open heart surgery, was arraigned by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission, ICPC, following a petition it received and consequently slammed a four-count charge against him.   

Although the  identity of the petitioner could not be ascertained ,  the anti-graft agency said the charges  against the medical expert  as contained  in the suit number E/37C/2010, bordered on administrative corruption, extortion and conferring corrupt advantages on himself,.

The commission said these offences violated Sections 8 and 19 and are punishable under Section 19 of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2000.

 Aghaji had sometime in 2010, while being a public officer used his position as a Consultant Cardio-thoracic Surgeon at UNTH Enugu, to demand for N320, 000 and received N70, 000, before he could carry out a surgical operation on one late Francis Ebeogbodi, which he never did before the patient passed on.

The ICPC said although it was unethical for doctors in public service to demand and accept money before performing their official duties, the accused allegedly did so.   The accused had, however, pleaded not guilty to the charges and was subsequently granted bail on self-recognition.

But ruling on the matter, the presiding judge, Justice Reuben Odugu, said the accused had no case to answer and he was accordingly discharged and acquitted.  “In conclusion, I uphold the no case submission of learned counsel for the Defendant as none of the ingredients and essential elements of asking for or receiving money from any person or using his office to confer a corrupt advantage on himself has not been proved by the prosecutor,’ Justice Odugu said.

According to the presiding judge, “it appears that the defendant is only a victim of politics of succession in UNTH, in the course of which a closed matter was resurrected by his adversaries not only to silence him but ostensibly to put him out of circulation and ruined his expert and distinguished career in medicine.’

“In consequence therefore, the Defendant is hereby discharged and acquitted on all the four-count charges preferred  against him by the ICPC as contained in the information dated the 1st day of March, 2010 and filed against him on behalf of the Attorney General of the Federation. And I so ordered,” Justice Odugu ruled.

 

 

 

Posted 08/12/2017 4:29:54 PM

 

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