The Court of Appeal Sokoto Division today September 26, 2017 dismissed two appeals entered by Mohammed Bello Abubakar against the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission in respect of ruling delivered by the Federal High Court Sokoto presided over by Justice R.M Aikawa for the admissibility of some documents presented by Commission in the trial of the appellant.
The appellant in two separate appeals had urged the court to set aside the ruling of the lower court which admitted some documents presented by the EFCC but the appeal court today ruled that it will not entertain any further interlocutory appeals until the matter is determined by the lower court.
The appellant who is currently a Commissioner for Lands and Housing in Sokoto State, was arraigned by the Commission April 7, 2014 alongside his brother, Abdullahi Abubakar and three companies before Justice Aikawa for alleged abuse of office while he was permanent Secretary Ministry of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs and the second defendant a Director in the same Ministry in the administration of the former Governor Aliyu Wamako.
The companies charged alongside the brothers are, Rose Gallery Nigeria limited, Silver Spring Global Concept Limited and Sitex Multiservice Limited.
During the course of trial on 12th, 13th, and 14th, of January 2016, the prosecuting counsel, Sa’idu Atteh through PW1, presented some documents which was objected by counsel representing the defendants. After listening to the arguments by the learned counsel on the admissibility of the documents, Justice Aikawa adjourned the matter for ruling which was delivered on March 10th, 2016 with some documents admitted while others were rejected.
The first defendant being dissatisfied with the ruling, approached the court of appeal Sokoto division seeking for an order setting aside the ruling of the lower court.
In a ruling delivered by Justice Usaini Mukhtar, leading Justices Mohammed Lawal Shuaibu and Fredrick O. Oho, both appeals were dismissed and the appellant ordered to go back to the lower court for trial. "If either party is not satisfied with final verdict of the lower court should then approach the court of appeal and make an appeal once and for all," the court ruled.
The court relied upon Rule 4 (e) of the Practice Direction of the Court of Appeal (Fast Track) 2014, which discourages interlocutory appeals until the final verdict has been delivered by the trial court.
This is the second of many attempts by the appellant to frustrate his trial. It would be recalled that on May 2, 2017, Justice Idrissa Kolo of the Federal High Court Sokoto granted the Attorney General of Sokoto State permission to take over the prosecution of the matter based on a Fiat purportedly from the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, SAN.
The Fiat was later countered by a letter dated 5th May, 2017 from the Director of Public Prosecution of the Federation which said that the Attorney General of Sokoto State has no power to take over the matter.
However, after the prosecution had received the letter from the DPPF, they approach the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court to allow Justice Aikawa who had been transferred to Lagos Division of the Federal High Court to continue with the matter.
The request was granted by the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court.