By Francis Sardauna
The controversy surrounding the release of two ‘notorious kidnappers’ in Katsina State on Friday took a new dimension as the Chief Registrar of the state High Court, Mr. Kabir Shu’aibu, said all the relevant documents that resulted in the release of the suspects were falsified.
He alleged that on March 9, 2020, the Registrar of High Court 7, Katsina, presided over by Justice Baraka Wali conspired with some staff and lawyers and presented false court order, bail bond and release order alleged to have been issued by Justice Wali to the state Chief Judge, Justice Musa Abubakar, for the release of the suspects.
The state chapter of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) had, in a press conference, accused the state Chief Judge, Justice Abubakar, of signing the bail documents for the release of the alleged notorious kidnappers.
The suspected kidnappers — Isiyaku Abubakara and Lawal Abubakar — were arrested by security personnel for the abduction of a renowned Qur’an reciter and preacher, Mallam Ahmed Suleiman.
Suleiman was kidnapped in March 2019, along the Sheme-Kankara road in Katsina State. Security operatives apprehended his abductors and prosecuted them at the Katsina State High Court.
Shu’aibu, in a statement issued to journalists in Katsina, also debunked media reports that his principal was deceived into freeing the alleged kidnappers.
He said: “The said Registrar along with others conspired, prepared a ruling purportedly given by Hon. Justice Baraka I. Wali and fraudulently presented false court order, bail bond and release order to the Honourable Chief Judge who, believing the documents to be genuine, signed and the said documents were presented to the officer in charge of the Correctional Centre where the suspects were eventually released.”
According to him, one U.D. Farouk, a Principal Legal Officer with the Legal Aid Council, allegedly filed the forged bail application with his signature and official seal of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) for the release of the suspected kidnappers.
He added: “The said lawyer also perfected the bail conditions by introducing the sureties after presenting a forged introduction letter from the District Head of Kankara where the suspects hail from.”
He said the chief judge became aware of the forged documents when the legal officer of the Department of State Services (DSS) complained that the released suspects had kidnapped and killed one person at Mararrabar Kankara in Malumfashi Local Government Area of the state.
This, he said, led to the chief judge calling for the case file and register of cases from the central registry where it was discovered that the application for the bail was never officially filed and registered, adding that: “It was further discovered that the case number assigned to the file KTH/198M/2020 had earlier been assigned to a civil motion.
“Having found that the conduct and acts of the registrar and his co-conspirators amounted to judicial fraud and offences relating to administration of justice under sections 124, 125, 141 and 148 of the Penal Code Law of Katsina State, the chief judge directed that a formal complaint should be forwarded to the Department of State Services for the matter to be thoroughly investigated and action taken as the acts and conducts constitute not only offences but a threat to national security and general administration of justice.
“The DSS, having conducted preliminary investigation, invited and interrogated all those involved including the District Head of Kankara, whose letter of introduction of sureties was forged, the officer in charge of Katsina Central Correctional Centre and detained the principal suspects and arraigned them before a Chief Magistrate’s Court for cognizance.”
He emphasized that U.D. Farouk vowed before Justice Abubakar to facilitate the re-arrest of the “fraudulently released” suspects, but failed to bring the said suspects after one week, hence his arraignment and subsequent detention.
He admitted that the state chief judge has constituted an investigative committee over the matter and had since submitted its report which is being studied for appropriate action.
However, the Assistant Secretary of the state chapter of the NBA, Mr. Ibrahim Babangida, at a press conference in Katsina, alleged that the state’s chief judge signed the bail documents for the release of the alleged kidnappers without reading the bail ruling delivered by the judge of High Court ‘9’, who presided over the matter.
He further alleged that when it was discovered that the released kidnappers had jumped bail, the DSS, Katsina State command, apprehended their member (U.D.Farouk) for a crime he did not commit.
Babangida frowned upon what he termed illegal detention of their member, who, for the past two months, has not been properly charged to court.