By Ibrahim Shuaibu in Kano
A Federal High Court sitting in Kano presided over by Justice Lewis Allagoa on Monday dismissed a motion on notice filled by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) seeking the transfer of a case involving the former governor of Kano State, Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau, and two others over alleged N950 million money laundering suit over insecurity.
The prosecuting counsel, Mr. J.A. Ojogbane, argued that the rationale behind the move to transfer the case was connected to the breakdown of law and order resulting to a face-off between the supporters of Shekarau and security personnel at the court premises on the first arraignment in June this year.
Ojogbane disclosed that the EFCC operatives narrowly escaped lynching by the rampaging supporters who besieged the court causing stampede and were later held hostage at their head office till 8 p.m on that fateful day, till Shekarau was released on bail after fulfilling the bail conditions.
He also told the court that the lives of his witnesses as well as himself were being threatened. This, he said, would prevent his witnesses from testifying hence, the need for an urgent transfer of the case to a more secured location within the country.
“Considering the traumatic experience we went through during the first arraignment and the series of threat we have received so far, the prosecution is very apprehensive.
“The three witnesses are also afraid to testify as they are being threatened by unknown persons,” adding that: “Only one of them agreed that his name should be used on the affidavit submitted before the court.”
The defence counsel, Sam Ologunorisa (SAN), in his argument, countered the motion, saying that it was just a ploy by the EFCC to stall the trial as it appeared they were not ready to continue the case.
According to him, the motion, which was hurriedly filed before the court on the 13th of October 2018 and which he received a copy on Friday 16th October, should not be granted as the court has no jurisdiction for such.
Ologunorisa pointed out that in a criminal case, it is not right, fair and proper for the prosecution to dictate, chose a venue or judge to preside over a case.
He noted that the affidavit filed is self-contradictory as the first three witnesses on record are all EFCC’s operatives, arguing that the current motion has the name of one Aliyu Da’u Aliyu as a witness whom he said was never a witness in the case that his alleged fear cannot inform the decision to transfer the case.
The presiding Judge, Justice Allagoa, dismissed the motion seeking for case transfer and adjourned the case till 3rd and 4th December for trial.
In another development, Justice Lewis Allagoa on Monday granted bail to the governorship candidate of the Green Party of Nigeria (GPN), Abdulsalam Abdulkareem and Ebere Uchechukwu.
Abdulkareem and Ebere were being charged by EFCC for a nine-count charge bordering on money laundering running into $1.1 million.
The first defendant (AbdulKareem) and second defendant (Ebere) had pleaded not guilty to all the charges.
Counsel to the first defendant, Dr. Hassan Liman (SAN), had filed an application for his client’s bail on personal recognition.
In his ruling, Justice Allagoa granted the first and second defendants bail to the sum of N100 million each and surety based within the court jurisdiction.
The case has been adjourned till 29th and 30th of January, 2019.