A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja and presided by Justice Adamu Bello on November 15, 2012, dismissed the application of the former governor of Adamawa state, Boni Haruna and three others to quash the 28 count charges of fraud and embezzlement of public fund preferred against them.
The quartet who were re-arraigned on Tuesday, February 9, 2010, by the Economic and Financial crimes Commission, EFCC, on a 28 count charges of fraud and embezzlement of public fund during the administration of the first accused (Boni Haruna) as governor of Adamawa state between 1999 and 2007, are Mohammed Inuwa Bassi, a former Minority Leader in the Adamawa State House of Assembly, John Babani Elias, an aide of the ex governor and Al-Akim Investment Nigeria Limited. They were first arraigned in 2008.
The former governor was alleged to have on or about the 13th day of November, 2002 at Yola fraudulently uttered a Guaranty Trust Bank Plc Cheque no.0348501 dated 13/11/2002 in the sum of N 10,000,000.00 drawn on account number no 3613406139110 to Guaranty Trust Bank Plc, operated by him in the name of Mohammed Inuwa Bassi , with intent that the said cheque may be acted as genuine and thereby committed an offence contrary to section 3 (2) (a) of Miscellaneous offences Act, Cap 410 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 1990 as amended by the Tribunals ( certain consequential Amendments, etc) Decree no 62 of 1999 and punishable under Section 3 (2) of the same Act.
Similarly, he was alleged to have on or about the 12th day of March, 2003 while governor, fraudulently uttered a Guaranty Trust Bank Plc, cheque no. 3049628 dated 12/3/2003 in the sum of N16,125,000.00 drawn on account number no, 361 3406139110 to Guaranty Trust Bank Plc, operated by him, in the name of Mohammed Inuwa Bassi with intent that the said cheque may be acted upon as genuine and thereby committed an offence contrary to section 3 (2) (a) of Miscellaneous offences Act, Cap 410 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 1990 as amended by the Tribunals (certain Consequential Amendments, etc), Decree no. 62 of 1999 and punishable under Section 3 (2) of the same Act.
Shortly after the court granted the accused persons bail, they challenged the jurisdiction of the court to try them and also argued that the proof of evidence against them did not show a prima-facie and therefore the entire charges, an abuse of court process. They further argued that the offence for which they were charged took place in Adamawa state and not Abuja ; therefore prayed the court to transfer the case to Adamawa state.
It would be recalled that written addresses were adopted in November, 2011 and the matter was adjourned to 31st January 2012 for ruling. But the ruling could not be given and the matter was further adjourned to Match 7, 2012. Again, the ruling was not ready and the matter was adjourned sine-die, as counsels phone numbers were taken with a promise to reach them through their phones.
At the resumed hearing of the case on November 15, 2012, the judge, in his ruling, dismissed the applications praying for the quashing of the 28 criminal count charge against them. He said the court is not empowered to quash the charges when witnesses have not been heard. The judge however ruled that the case be transferred to Adamawa state as Abuja has no territorial jurisdiction to hear the case. This, he said is in view of the precedent of the transfer of ex-governor James Ibori’s case from Kaduna to Asaba, Delta state.
Ag. Head, Media & Publicity