Justice Bello Abbas of the Sokoto State High Court, sitting in Sokoto on Wednesday, January 31, 2018, dismissed an application by a former governor of Sokoto State, Attahiru Dalhatu Bafarawa, seeking to quash N15billion fraud charge preferred against him and six others by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
The judge held that the former governor and his co-accused have a case to answer.
Bafarawa is standing trial alongside Beedash Nigeria Limited, 2nd defendant; while Bashir Mamman Nasarawa and his company Multi Trade Global Concept Limited are 3rd and 4th defendants respectively.
Nasdabap Nigeria Limited, Alhaji Nasiru Dalhatu Bafarawa, and Alhaji Salihu Maibuhu Gummi are also joined in the suit as 5th, 6th, and 7th defendants respectively.
They are being prosecuted on an amended 34-count charge of cheating, criminal breach of trust, and diversion of public funds to the tune of over N15billion.
The money was allegedly misappropriated when Bafarawa held sway as the governor of the state between 1999 and 2007.
Upon arraignment in December 2009, Bafarawa and his co-accused pleaded not guilty to the 47 counts preferred against them.
Soon after the arraignment, the accused persons filed a motion asking the court to among other things strike out the charge against them, which was dismissed by both the trial court and Court of Appeal, Sokoto Division.
The pardon recently granted to some of the accused persons by the Sokoto State governor, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, was responsible for the further amendment of the charge by the prosecution to the 34 counts.
In the course of the trial, the prosecution called nine witnesses and tender over 100 exhibits to prove the case against the accused persons.
On December 4, 2017, the accused persons approached the court again with an application of a “no case submission” following which the matter was adjourned to today for ruling after all arguments were taken.
In his ruling, Justice Abbas held that the prosecution had established a prima facie case to warrant explanations by the defendants as to whether they are culpable or not.
“The element required in a no-case submission is to establish a prima facie case and not elements for conviction. Having stated that position of the law, I wish to also observe that, given the nature of the entire case, and considering the documentary evidence before me, the accused persons definitely have some explanations to make, and this can only be done if they enter their defense”, the judge held.
The judge, however, upheld the no-case submission entered on behalf of the 3rd and 4th accused persons (Bashir Mamman Nasarawa and his company Multi Trade Global Concept Limited), and subsequently discharged and acquitted them.
The case has been adjourned to March 15 and 16, 2018 for the accused persons to open their defense.