From: Godwin Tsa, Abuja
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, has re-arraigned the former governor of Jigawa State, Sule Lamido and his two sons, Aminu and Mustapha, before the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja over alleged money laundering offences to the tune of N1.35 billion.
This was after Justice Babatunde Quadri dismissed an application by the ex- governor that his case be returned to the former trial judge, Justice Adeniyi Ademola.
In refusing the application, Justice Quadri held that it would better serve the interest of justice and public peace not to return the case to Justice Ademola.
The court however granted to bail in various sums and two sureties each after pleading not guilty to the alleged offences.
While the former was granted bail in the sum of N100m, others including his two sons got N50m bail each with same number of sureties.
The sureties according to the court must be senior civil servants who must present letters of identification from their respective ministries.
Meanwhile, Justice Quadri has given the two months within which to perfect their bail conditions or be remanded in prison custody.
Justice Ademola, his wife, Olubowale , and Lamido’s lead counsel, Mr. Joe Agi(SAN), were jointly prosecuted before the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory by the Federal Government but were exonerated of all the 18 counts preferred against them on April 5, 2017.
It was the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Ibrahim Auta, who re-assigned the case to Justice Quadri when Justice Ademola was on suspension as a result of the joint trial.
But having been discharged and acquitted, Counsel to Lamido, Joe Agi (SANj,who was coincidentally arraigned alongside Justice Ademola, had requested the Chief Judge to return the case to Justice Ademola.
Agi had predicated his request to the Chief Judge on the grounds that it would be agonising for his Lamido and the other defendants to be subjected to the trial afresh when the prosecution, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, had already called 18 witnesses before Justice Ademola’s court.
But the EFCC had opposed the request insisting that with the joint trial which Justice Ademola and Agi underwent, the judge would likely be biased if the case was returned to him (Justice Ademola).
However, the Chief Judge upon considering both Agi’s and EFCC’s counter-requests insisted that the case should remain in Justice Quadri’s court.
Despite the Chief Judge’s directive, Agi filed a motion on April 26, 2017, seeking Justice Quadri’s order directing the return of the case to Justice Ademola.
Lamido and other defendants are facing trial over charges bothering on corruption, money laundering, breach of trust and illegal diversion of public funds to the tune of N1.35 billion. Lamido was equally alleged to have collected kickbacks from contractors in the state, with the funds allegedly paid into accounts that were managed by his sons.
Four companies that were allegedly involved in the fraud (Bamaina Holdings Limited, Bamiana Company Nigeria Limited, Bamaina Aluminum Limited and Speeds International Limited), were also charged as the 5th to 8th accused persons in the matter. Lamido was said to have abused his position as governor between 2007 and 2015, by awarding contracts to companies where he had interest, using his two sons as front.
The case was further adjourned to October 18 and 19 for trial.