A High Court sitting in the Federal Capital Territory, Nigeria, has cleared a UK renowned medical doctor, Dr. Reuben Olu Obaro, and his wife, Ayodele, of corruption charges, falsely levelled against them by the Independent and Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC). In his ruling on the case, Justice A.O. Ebong dismissed all the charges against the couple stating that the case was ‘frivolous’ and ‘unfair to the defendants,’ describing it as, ‘unfounded in all ramifications.’
ICPC had, in an eight-count charge, accused the prominent radiologist and his wife, a practising nurse in the UK, of misappropriating part of the funds provided as a seed grant by SURE-P to support the setting up of a specialist stroke management hospital in Nigeria. Right from the beginning, questions abounded as to the real motive behind ICPC’s investigation when the couple had just hit the ground running with this gigantic project- first of its kind in Nigeria.
ICPC however, commenced a two-year investigation followed by a full-blown trial, which dragged on for another two years. Upon examining all the evidence and listening to all the witnesses against the defendants, Justice Ebong dismissed the case in totality.
According to Stroke Action Nigeria, stroke continues to affect about 200,000 people annually in the country. The successful setup of the planned Stephen James Stroke Centre of Excellence by the couple would not only have provided critical healthcare to thousands of stroke patients but would have also provided numerous jobs for Nigerians. Also, the centre would have contributed immensely to local capacity building by training personnel to manage the disease in Nigeria.
In his closing remarks during the judgement, the honourable justice reprimanded the prosecution for the potential damage this kind of frivolous trials have on the country and its citizens. “It is common knowledge that at various times the Federal Government has made efforts to rebuild the negative image of our nation in the international arena. This sort of dubious and frivolous attack on the character and reputation of citizens as exemplified in this trial, cannot aid that effort,” said Justice Ebong.
The court also ordered that the land documents and funds arbitrarily seized from the couple by the ICPC during the investigation, should be returned. However, as at the time of writing this report, the prosecuting agency has not obeyed that order.
Together, the couple run MACT-BRIDGE THE GAP, a family funded charity registered with the Charity Commission, UK. Through their charity, Dr and Mrs Obaro have run medical missions across Nigeria, sent medical equipment to medical facilities, books and computers to schools and awarded scholarships as well as supported orphanages over the years.