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Ecological Fund: Court adjourns ex-Niger gov’s N2bn trial

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THE Federal High Court sitting in Minna, Niger State, on Thursday adjourned the trial of a former governor of Niger State, Babangida Aliyu, for allegedly laundering Ecological Fund to the tune of N2 billion.

Justice Yalim Bogoro, the presiding judge granted the requests of the counsels to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, to adjourn the case for the prosecuting team to have time to examine the available evidence.

Prosecuting counsel, Jibrin Okutepa, SAN, brought before the Court an application seeking for adjournment, noting that he needed time to sit with the investigation officers, who at the moment were on election duties.

In his defence, he said, “We applied for the exhibit, which is huge because we just came into the matter, and I was told that the application for the exhibit tendered had to be approved by his lordship, who is no longer here but comes to sit in this matter.

“It is this morning that they told me that the application has been approved. The exhibit is not something that I will just sit down, hear it and say I am ready to go on with it without reading it because what is worth doing [at all] is worth doing well.

“Some of my witnesses are not around because they are concerned about electoral matters. So those are the reasons why we apply for a new date,” he submitted.

Aliyu is currently been prosecuted by the EFCC, for allegedly laundering Ecological Fund to the tune of N2 billion, released by the Federal Government to Niger State in 2014 when he was governor.

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Counsel for the first defendant, Olajide Ayodele, SAN, and  Mamman Osuman, SAN, counsel to the second defendant raised no objections to the application which prompted the Judge, Bogoro, to adjourn the case for “continuation of hearing” to April 15.

Also, the EFCC, Maiduguri Zonal Office, also secured the conviction of Imam Malik Kalle before Justice Fadawu Umaru of the Borno State High Court, in Maiduguri on a one-count charge bordering on cheating to the tune of N 1,5 00, 000 (One million Five Hundred Thousand Naira) only.

Kalle, a former staff of Jaiz Bank Plc, Maiduguri branch was alleged to have defrauded one Muhammad Sani Abubakar, by fraudulently collecting the sum of N1, 500, 000 for a purported Mudaraba Investment with Jaiz Bank Plc.

Count one of the charges reads, “That you, Imama Malik, a former staff of Jaiz Bank Plc, sometimes in November 2016, in Maiduguri, Borno State, within the Jurisdiction of this Honourable Court with intent to defraud, did obtain the sum of N1,500,000 (One Million Five Hundred Thousand Naira) only from one Muhammad Sani Abubakar, a customer of Jaiz Bank, under the false pretence that the said money will be used to service his interest in Mudaraba Investment, which pretence you knew to be false and thereby committed an offence contrary to section 320(a) of the Borno State Penal Code Laws cap, 102 and punishable under section 322 of the same law.”

The accused pleaded “guilty” to the charge preferred against him and was summarily convicted.

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Amos Abba is a journalist with the International Center for Investigative Reporting, ICIR, who believes that courageous investigative reporting is the key to social justice and accountability in the society.

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