From Agaju Madugba, Katsina
Economic and social activities in Katsina metropolis were shut down for several hours, yesterday, following the arraignment of immediate past governor, Ibrahim Shehu Shema.
He was arraigned by the state government and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) before a Katsina State High Court, presided over by Justice Ibrahim Bako.
Bako, however, did not take plea. The former governor was arraigned on allegations of financial misappropriation during his tenure.
In spite of what may well be an unprecedented deployment of security personnel in parts of the town especially around the court location on Daura Road, Shema’s supporters seized the arraignment to embark on a rally in the area, just as the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) state secretariat wore a fresh look. Chanting pro-Shema slogans and displaying placards, his supporters patrolled the metropolis listing his achievements in office.
But, a 21-point charge against the former governor could not be read in court as his counsel, Joseph Daudu (SAN) filed an application challenging the jurisdiction of the court to entertain the case.
In spite of the development, EFCC counsel, Jibril Samuel Oketepa, urged the court to order Shema’s remand in prison custody, a prayer which the presiding Judge, Justice Ibrahim Maikaita Bako, turned down.
Oketepa argued that the prosecution will be able to get an easier access to Shema, when required.
He contended that the former governor was on “EFCC administrative bail and once violated that bail. So, the only place we can guarantee to see him when required is in the prison.“
However, dismissing the oral application, the judge argued that the court cannot remand him because the charges have not been read and his plea had not been taken.
“We have to, first of all, hear the issue of application challenging the jurisdiction of the court. ”
The court adjourned the matter to February 7, 2017 for further hearing.
Governor Aminu Bello Masari had, on assumption of office on May 2015, constituted a panel of inquiry to probe alleged misappropriation of about N70 billion from the coffers of the state government during Shema’s tenure as governor.
But the Court of Appeal sitting in Kaduna has since ordered suspension of proceedings of the commission of inquiry pending the determination of an appeal filed by Shema.