Noah Ebije, Kaduna
A Federal High Court sitting in Kaduna on Thursday ordered that a former Governor of the state, Alhaji Ramalan Yero, and three others, be remanded in prison custody.
The ruling follows the arraignment of the former Governor and others indicted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on fraud related charges.
Charged alongside the former governor were a former chairman of the PDP in the state, Abubakar Gaya-Haruna, former secretary to the state government, Hamza Ishaq, and a former Minister of Power, Nuhu Somo Wya.
Yero was arraigned on a three-count charge bordering on conspiracy to commit crime, as he is alleged to have directly taken possession of N700 million, contrary to section 18(a) of the Money Laundering Act; directly taken possession of N700 million, contrary section 18(d); and cash transactions without passing through a financial institution.
The other defendants were arraigned on an additional charge of cash payments without passing through a financial institution.
All the defendants pleaded not guilty.
However, counsel to the EFCC, Joshua Saidi said that, “in view of the plea of the defendant, we ask for a date to commence trial. We urged his Lordship to remand them in prison.”
Counsel to the former governor, Yunus Ustaz, made an oral application for bail, saying, “we apply that in the interest of justice and presumption of innocence, the accused be granted bail.
“Your lordship has absolute discretion to grant bail. The administration of the Criminal Justice Act allows that you grant bail without formal application.
“The first defendant is not somebody to jump bail. We prayed that the accused be remanded in EFCC Custody pending the determination of the bail application because of what some of us had gone through in Nigeria prison.”
Counsel to EFCC, however, objected to the prayers, saying that “we don’t have the facility to keep the accused.”
In his short ruling, Presiding Judge Muhammed Shuaib ordered that the accused be kept in prison custody till the 6th of June when the bail application would be determined.
Shortly after the ruling, the accused, who had been exchanging light banter in the dock, soon wore a forlorn look.
Former Governor Yero had hitherto been detained at EFCC zonal office in Kaduna.
The former governor was detained along with Gaya-Haruna, Hamza Ishaq and Nuhu Somo Wya.
All four have been reporting at the EFCC office for the past two months in line with procedure for the Commission’s investigation into N700 million in PDP’s 2015 campaign funds.