Published On: Tue, Oct 16th, 2018

Appeal can’t stop your trial, court tells ex-Gov Shema

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By Vivian Okejeme

A Katsina State High Court, yesterday, said the motion for stay of proceedings and substantive appeal, will not affect the continuation of the trial of former Governor of Katsina State, Ibrahim Shehu Shema and three others.
Shema, who was governor of the state between 2007 and 2015 on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), is being tried alongside Sani Makana, Lawal Safana and Ibrahim Dankaba.
A seven-man commission of inquiry led by Justice Muhammed Sirajo had accused Shema’s administration of alleged embezzlement of N11billion belonging to the 34 local government areas of the state.
When the matter was called yesterday, counsel to Shema, Adedayo Adedeji, informed the Court that there is pending appeal before the Court of Appeal Kaduna division.
The defendant approached the appellate court challenging the judgment of the Court in its ruling of June 12th and July 9th, 2018, where the court admitted in evidence exhibits 2 and 3 despite the objection to the admissibility of the said documents.
Arguing further, Adedeji told the trial Judge, Justice Maikaita Ibrahim Bako, that the ruling of the court has been challenged, adding that both the motion for stay of proceedings and the substantive appeal have been fixed for October 22, 2018 for hearing at Court of Appeal.
He submitted that the court should wait for the decision of the appeal court in line with the provision of the law.
Opposing, the prosecution Counsel, Jubril Okutepa (SAN), urged the trial Judge to dis-countenance the application of the accused and proceed with the trial.
He argued that the submission of the accused counsel is an attempt to delay the trial.
At the last adjourned date, the author of the said document which is subject of contention Alhaji Ibrahim Dabo Bujawa, in his testimony had told the court that he did not see the appropriation laws of the state between 2012 to 2014 before his committee came up with a report indicting former governor of the state and the state government had set up a committee to investigate the finances of the state under former Governor Shema.
The committee was expected to investigate loss of government funds and property. According to Bujawa, who printed posters to contest the 2015 governorship election against Governor Aminu Bello Masari but later stepped down from contesting the election, in his evidence before the court said he was aware that the State House of Assembly is saddled with the responsibilities of making financial appropriation laws for the state; but had not seen the laws between 2012 to 2014.
Apart from the report of the committee that was brought to the court, none of the primary evidence was shown to the court to substantiate the allegation of the witness.
While under cross-examination, he said apart from allowances that were paid to them, no other member of the committee got money for the work they did for the state serving on the committee.
But when told by the team of lawyers of Dr Shema, led by Chief Joseph Daudu, SAN, that, some of the members who served on the committee have been rewarded with political appointments by the governor, he said he was not aware.
When asked, if he knew that Maigari Salihu and Farouk Lawan Jobe, who served as members of the committee are now chairman, Local Government
Services of Katsina State and Special Adviser to the governor of the state respectively, the witness claimed ignorance of the development.
Bujawa, who said he personally investigated the finances of the state, said some vouchers were with the Economic and Financial Commission (EFCC), but did not bother to request for the documents from the commission before coming up with its report.
“I said that some vouchers are with the EFCC. The director of Finance in the Ministry of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs did not give us the details of the vouchers. The vouchers with the EFCC are very important to our work. I did not write the EFCC to request for the vouchers,” he said.
He also told the court that in the course of their investigation, they never interviewed any of the defendants before the court, adding that the committee only tried to reach one of them through a third party.
The continuation of the trial has been adjourned to 16th October, 2018.

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