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Bala Mohammed’s ongoing trial has nothing to do with politics, EFCC insists

WAHAB Shittu, the lawyer representing the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in the corruption trial involving the former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Bala Mohammed, has reiterated that the trial has nothing to do with politics as is being insinuated by many.

Shittu was speaking to journalists on Monday after Bello’s scheduled re-arraignment before Justice Yusuf Haliru was stalled because the Judge was absent from court.

Mohammed, who was declared the winner of the just-concluded Bauchi gubernatorial election on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party, is still facing a six-count corruption charge at the FCT High Court, Abuja, for offences he allegedly committed while in office as FCT Minister.

One of the counts read: “That you Bala A. Mohammed on or about October 24, 2016 at the head office of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission in Abuja within the judicial division of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory made a false statement to the detective, Ishaya Dauda, investigating officer with the Economic Governance Section of the EFCC, Abuja to wit: that you acquired house situate at No. 2599 and 2600, Cadastal Zone AO4 Asokoro District Abuja through a mortgage facility from Aso Savings & Loan Bank Plc and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 09 (2) (a) of the EFCC (Establishment) Act 2004 and punishable under Section 39(2)(b) of the same Act.”

Explaining why the arraignment could not hold as scheduled, Shittu said they were informed that the trial judge was away on election petition duty in Abeokuta, Ogun State. He also waved aside the insinuation that the trial was politically motivated.

“The EFCC is an anti-corruption agency, it does not play politics,” Shittu said. “This a matter that was ongoing before another judge who has now been elevated to the Court of Appeal.

“Just a week ago, the registry of this court sent us a notice that today has been fixed for the re-arraignment of the defendant. You know when a case is transferred to another court, it starts de novo (afresh).

“Let us focus on the matter before the court. EFCC exists to serve everybody,” he said.

Bala Mohammed was first arrested by the EFCC in October 2016. In May 2017, he was arraigned before Justice Abubakar Talba of the FCT High Court on a six-count charge. He was briefly remanded at the Kuje Prison before being granted bail in the sum of N500m with two sureties in like sum.

The former FCT Minister’s son, Shamsudeen Bala, is also facing a N1.1 billion corruption case at the federal high court, Abuja. Like his father, the younger Bala Mohammed also spent some time at the Kuje Prisons before he was granted bail in February 2017 in the sum of N100 million with two sureties at N50 million each.

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