By Michael Olugbode
The Court of Appeal in Gombe State has ordered that the case involving a former Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Abdu Bulama and four others should be reassigned to another Federal High Court for retrial.
The former minister was arraigned by the Maiduguri Zonal Office of the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC), on Friday, May 29, 2018, before Justice Isa Hamman Dashen of the Federal High Court, Damaturu, Yobe State, on a seven count charge that bordered on money laundering to the tune of N450 million.
Bulama was prosecuted alongside a former Commissioner for Integrated and Rural Development in Yobe State, Mr. Mohammed Kadai, and the Deputy Coordinator of Dr. Goodluck Jonathan Campaign Organisation, Mr. Abba Gana Tata, Mr. Muhammad Mamu and Mr. Hassan Ibn Jaks.
In the cause of the trial, the Counsel for the EFCC, Mr. Mukhtar Ali Ahmed, presented six witnesses and tendered several documents that were admitted in evidence by the court.
At the close of the prosecution’s case, the defendants opted for a “no case submission” that was upheld by Justice Isa Hamman Dashen of the Federal High Court, who discharged and acquitted all the defendants.
Dissatisfied with the ruling, the EFCC filed an appeal, asking the appellate court to set aside the decision of the lower court.
The Appeal Court in its judgment on March 3, 2021, upheld the argument of the EFCC that the lower court erred in discharging and acquitting the defendants.
The judgment, which was read by Justice Tunde Awotoye, held that “the charge No. FHC/DM/CR/25/2018 FRN VS DR. ABDU BULAMA & 4 OTHERS are ordered to be remitted back to the lower court to be reassigned to another Federal High Court Judge other than Hon. Justice Isah H. Dashen to be heard de novo.”
The court held that “…there is inferential evidence against the respondents, which should not be brushed aside.
Investigations by the EFCC revealed that Bulama and co-defendants received and shared the said sum, which was provided by a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison Madueke, to influence the outcome of the 2015 Presidential Election.