The Attorney General and Commissioner of Justice, Lagos State, Mr. Adeniji Kareem has explained the rationale behind the withdrawal of $8.8million fraud charge before a Lagos High Court in Ikeja against an Indian-Briton, Deepak Khilnani and his co-defendant, Dr Sushil Chandra by the Lagos State Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP).
Kareem said the review of the facts of the case showed that it was a commercial dispute and not a criminal matter.
Some lawyers have however sued the Attorney General on the ground that his action was suspicious and that he did not act on the best interest of the public.
Khilnani and Chandra were charged to court for allegedly defrauding their Nigerian business partner, Green Fuels Limited, to the tune of $8.8million sometime in 2008, but the case was struck out by Justice Oluwatoyin Ipaye after the DPP entered Nolle prosequi (no prosecution).
Kazeem said: “One of the things when I got into this office is that I found out that as it happens in other places too, the office of the DPP has often been used as a tool to settle scores; scores that are not criminal but commercial and civil.
The DPP’s office is dealing with issues that relate to over 22million people with regards to crime. They are already overburdened and one of the things I said to the DPP is that this office will not be used as an instrument to settle criminal or commercial-related issues.
“If you have commercial-related issues, go to commercial court and go and sort those problems. When there are issues that have already gone to a certain stage, review all the facts and let us take a position so that we can move forward and one of such files is this particular one and after a thorough review by the DPP, we came to the unsalable condition that that matter was not criminal in the opinion of the office of the Attorney General.
“Also, while that so-called matter was attempting to progress through the criminal court, there was already a matter in the civil court instituted by the same people on this matter that is commercially related. Anytime we take a matter to court from this office, our intention is to win. We don’t have time for frivolity. After the DPP’s review on the matter, we sent the case file together with out report to the AIG Zone 2,” the Attorney General said.
He said while Section 211 of the Constitution empowers his office to withdraw criminal cases, he was aware that such must be carefully utilized, and that the decision was in the best interest of the State.
According to him, “The aggrieved party in the case went to court to challenge what we did but the court, after our response, came to the conclusion that the matter had no merit and the case thrown out.
“I understand that they intend to go on appeal which is their constitutional right but I am willing if the people want, they can come, we can explain the issues to them. This office is an office with a huge burden and you take tough choices. That choice that we have taken has freed up considerably the DPP to face the major issues such as kidnapping, sexual assault, rape, defilement, armed robbery and so on, and not waste valuable manpower and time on commercial matter when there is a commercial court.”