From John Adams Minna
Minna High Court Judge, Justice Aliyu Mayaki has ordered that former Governor of Niger State, Dr. Muazu Babangida Aliyu alongside the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) gubernatorial candidate in the 2015 governorship elections, Umar Mohammed Nasko be remanded in prison pending a ruling on bail application on Wednesday next week.
According to Justice Mayaki “the case is to be opened on June 12, 2017 and to be held day by day till 16th June and the ruling on bail is to be delivered on 3rd May, 2017. They are to be remanded in Medium Security prisons in Minna.”
The former governor and his former Chief of Staff, who also serviced as a commissioner, were yesterday docked in a Minna High Court on six counts charge of dishonestly converting to personal use money belonging to the Niger State government amounting to over five billion naira.
Babangida and Nasko were ushered into the court room at about 8.40am by operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) led by the commission’s lead counsel, Gbolahon Latona and three other lawyers.
The accused persons pleaded not guilty when the charges were read to them by the presiding judge, Mayaki.
The court however stood down for 30 minutes at the commencement of the case to enable the counsels of the parties involved in the case compare notes on oral application made by EFCC to amend its original charges.
On resumption of proceedings, the legal teams to the first and second accused persons, Ayodele Oladeji and Mamman Mike Osuman did not object to the amended charges.
The first count charge accused Aliyu and Umar of committing illegal act of criminal breach of trust in 2015 contrary to section 97 of criminal code.
The second count charge of withdrawal of the sum of N540m from Zenith Bank account No.1012424374 for personal use contrary to section 111 of penal code and punishable under section 104 of the penal code was for the former governor only.
Also, the former governor was alone in the third count charge of dishonestly converting to personal use over N1.725 billion belonging to Niger State government into personal use from Zenith Bank contrary to section 311 of penal code and punishable under section 304.
However the fourth count charge of dishonestly converting to personal use the proceeds from the sale of Niger government shares in the power plant amounting to N1.900 billion involved both accused persons while the fifth and sixth counts bothered on using ecological funds of N800m and another amount of N432m were also for both accused.
Lead Counsel to the EFCC, Latona had levelled a Six count charge on Dr. Aliyu as the 1st defendant and Umar Mohammed Nasko as the 2nd defendant.
Meanwhile, hundreds of pro- Babangida Aliyu supporters who thronged the court to show their solidarity were disallowed from gaining entrance into the court premises by heavily armed security agents.
The protesters, however, defied the scorching sun of Minna as they gathered few meters away from the court premises, singing pro Aliyu song.
The protesters carried placards with different inscriptions some of which read, “Talba we trust,’ “Talba we know”, “EFCC is a political dog”, “free Talba, there are more thieves in APC than PDP” “there is no change”.
Some of the protesters who spoke to our correspondent said the trial of the former governor was purely political, saying that “there are even more thieves in APC than PDP”.
They questioned the decision of the anti graft agency to arrest the former governor years after he left, describing it as political witch-hunting by the APC led government.