A Federal High Court sitting in Kano on Tuesday adjourned the N950 million fraud suit involving a former governor of Kano State, Ibrahim Shekarau, a former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Aminu Wali, and former Director General, Goodluck Jonathan Campaign Organisation, Mansur Ahmed, till October 18, 2018.
In his submission, the prosecuting counsel Jonson Ojogbane informed the court that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had already applied for the transfer of the matter, through the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court in Abuja, from Kano to another judicial division due to security threat.
Ojogbane thereby sought for the adjournment of the suit to enable them conclude the process of the transfer and expediently wait for the chief judge’s approval.
According to the EFCC lawyer, “I wish to inform the court that, after we left here on the last date, due to the difficult situation we find ourselves same day at our Kano office, it is practically impossible for us to continue to prosecute this case in this judicial division.
“Consequently, we wrote a letter to the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court in Abuja on 1st June, 2018, seeking for his gracious intervention, to transfer this case from this division to another division which is safer to all concerned.
“We also further wrote an application, dated 25th June, 2018, for the adjournment of this case to enable us complete the process of the transfer based on the provision of Section 98 sub-section (1)(2) of the administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015, where it stated clearly that, the Chief Judge has the power to transfer a case from one court to another, we wish to apply that this case is adjourned to another day.”
The presiding judge, Justice Zainab Abubakar, interjected midway and insisted that the prosecution counsel cannot request such application for an adjournment without specifically mentioning a date that will be convenient and acceptable to both parties.
On his part, counsel to the first defendant Jibrin S. Okutepa (SAN), who vehemently opposed the application on transfer of the case from Kano, insisted that the transfer was a sign that the prosecution was not prepared to continue with the suit.
Okutepa argued that the prosecution has no excuse to apply for such application on the basis of security threat. Giving the fact that all the security apparatus are in its disposal, he averred that the prosecution was not mindful of financial expenses and other implications that might cause his clients.
According to Okutepa, “We are in court this morning (Tuesday), we walked to the court in peace, we are worried that the prosecution who has all the apparatus at his disposal will entertain such fears and went ahead to apply for the transfer of this case. It is a sign that the prosecution are not ready”.
Counsel to second (Aminu Wali) and third (Mansur Ahmed) defendants, Sam T. Ologunorisa (SAN), who also challenged the prosecution’s application for transfer, however raised the alarm that from available intelligence report ”there is the likelihood that our clients and over 50 witnesses might be kidnapped on their way to Abuja”.
In her ruling, Justice Abukakar said: “Application such as this, are meant for the court to stay action, until the Chief Judge respond or accede to the request, on whether the case will continue in Kano or not.”
The judge thereby adjourned the case to October 18, 2018, pending the request before the chief judge.
The three suspects were accused of money laundering to the tune of N950 million by the EFCC, in which each of them allegedly collected N25 million to facilitate former President Jonathan’s 2015 presidential campaign.