Laleye Dipo in Minna
A Niger State High Court sitting in Minna on Monday discharged a former governor of the state, Dr. Mu’azu Babangida Aliyu, and two others who have been standing trial for alleged corruption since 2017.
The two others are the former Chief of Staff, Government House during Aliyu’s administration, Alhaji Umar Nasko, and the state’s Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Chairman, Alhaji Tanko Beji.
The trio were being tried for alleged diversion of N2 billion ecological fund.
The case had lingered for over three years and had witnessed three separate trial judges presiding over it at different times.
Last month, the counsel to the plaintiffs — the Niger State government and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) — announced their withdrawal from further prosecuting the case before the court.
However, the defence counsel insisted that the prosecution should equally declare it had similarly withdrawn from the case to determine its fate before the court.
At three different sittings of the court, the prosecution counsel did not appear before the court neither did they send any representation to pursue the case.
The three lead defence counsel — Mr Ayodele O. Ayodeji (SAN), Alhaji Ibrahim Ishaku (SAN) and Mr Mike Mamman (SAN) — had urged the court to discharge and acquit their clients because the prosecution had failed to appear before the court on three previous occasions.
At the court sitting on Monday, the trial judge, Justice Mukha’ila Abdullahi, said the court had diligently followed the arguments of the defence counsel and had arrived at the conclusion that the court could not act or serve as prosecutor in the case.
In his ruling after nearly three hours’ recess, Justice Abdullahi said the accused persons have been discharged.
In discharging the three accused persons, the trial judge noted that the complainants in the case, which had dragged on since 2017, had not shown diligence in its prosecuting hence the decision of the court to discharge them.
Meanwhile, family members and political aides of the former governor have hailed the court verdict.