A senior magistrate in Kano, Aminu Gabari, has allegedly forced a litigant in a case before his court to pay the sum of N400,000 to his account as bribe.
Mr Gabari is notorious for jailing and imposing stringent bail conditions on critics of the governor of Kano State, Abdullahi Ganduje.
DAILY NIGERIAN gathered that direct complaints emanating from the Kano Government House are always filed and prosecuted in his court, in clear contravention of Section 107 (4)(5)(6) of the Administration Criminal Justice Law, ACJL, which provides that magistrates in whose courts direct complaints are filed should not be the ones to try the substantive matter but only take cognisance of the offence and direct the matter to another magistrate.
Insiders also told DAILY NIGERIAN that “lucrative cases” involving high profile persons or huge amounts of money are often directed to his court, for reasons best known to the state judiciary.
In a petition addressed to the Kano Chief Judge, Nura Sagir, one Ismail Maitama Yusuf (a complainant before Mr Gabari) claimed that he paid the sum of N400,000 in two tranches to Mr Gabari in order to secure the release of a part of his money deposited in the court.
The petition, dated January 31, 2022, also revealed how Mr Gabari released two suspects in questionable circumstances, despite defrauding the petitioner N38 million.
The petition reads in part: “Sir, sometime in December 2020, I was defrauded by some people named Abbas Dauda Isah, Awwal Mainasara and Jeremiah Obida (now defendants), where they conspired and defrauded me the sum of N38,000,000 (Thirty Eight Million Naira) as a result of which the police from the AIG Zone 1 Kano filed FIR against them, (and) same was directed to Senior Magistrate Court 58 Normansland, Kano for prosecution of the offences of conspiracy and receipt by false pretense.
“Sir, during the arraignment, the defendants admitted the alleged offences and the court asked them to write an undertaking for the refund of my money. They undertook in writing to refund my money within two weeks from the date of the arraignment, but they failed to do so as promised. Instead, the two defendants only deposited the sum of N3,000,000 each, making the total sum of N6,000,000 as part of my money. They are Abbas Dauda Isah and Auwal Mainassara.
“Sir, the court released them on bail, but the third defendant (Jeremiah Obida) was released on bail without providing any surety/sureties for the reason best known to the court, as a result of which he (Jeremiah Obida) absconded bail and disappeared for the period of more than 8 months.
“Sir, before the sum of N6,000,000 deposited as part of my money released to me, I was forced by the above mentioned magistrate that I will be given the money on bond and I must give him the sum of N400,000 as his share, which he collected the sum of N200,000 through bank account. I attached the back payment slip of N200,000 to his bank account as evidence.
“Subsequently, he collected the addition at sum of N200,000 cash from me at his residence in Sharada Jaen, Baffa Babba Dan-Agundi line, in the presence of Mallam Bashir Ahmed and Yusuf Muhammad Sani as witnesses.
“Sir, as soon as the court knew that he (Jeremiah Obida) was re-apprehended by his co-defendants, the court without any application by either party, transferred the case instantly to Chief Magistrate Court 14, Gyadi-Gyadi Complex, because the Magistrate Court 58 does not want the secret behind the abscondment of bail of the Jeremiah Obida to be exposed, and therefore, the magistrate extracted some important documents in the case file, including the bond I was forced to write and the undertaking written for the refund of my money by Jeremiah Obida and then transferred the case, almost empty file.
“Sir, with utmost respect, despite the fact that the case was transferred before Chief Magistrate Court 14 Gyadi-Gyadi suo-moto by the Court 58, however, His Worship Aminu Muhammad Gabari keeps calling me with his mobile phone number (08065433765) on different occasions that I should refund the sum of N6,000,000 to him, or else he will deal with me and even threatened to arrest anytime and anywhere.”
When DAILY NIGERIAN approached Mr Gabari to speak on the allegations, the magistrate denied collecting any bribe from the petitioner, saying that the allegation is a mere claim.
According to Mr Gabari, the petitioner came up with the allegations in order to create public sympathy because he was declared wanted by the court.
He said: “I can’t respond to the petition. Responding to the petition means I am joining issues with him, which contravenes my stand as a public servant.
“If you need further clarification on the matter, please contact the PRO of the court.
“In fact, the petitioner is on bench warrant. I have ordered for his arrest in order to return the N6million he collected on bond. He promised to return the money anytime the court needs it but has refused to do so.”
Spokesman for Kano judiciary, Baba Jibo Ibrahim, said he could not speak on the matter at the moment.
He explained that he travelled out of the country, and that receiving or making international call would deplete his call credit.
Legal experts however opine that the issuance of the bench warrant against the nominal complainant amounts to abuse of office and gross misapplication of the law on the grounds that the magistrate is no longer exercising jurisdiction on the case and the fact that the magistrate cannot be a judge in his own case.
The experts further argued that monetary deposits for bail can only be released to the defendant who furnished same on bond and not to the nominal complainant as that would amount to determining the matter.
Barrage of accusations against Gabari
A Civil Society Organisation, Centre for Awareness on Justice and Accountability, CAJA, recently petitioned the National Judicial Council, over Kano State chief judge, Nura Sagir’s alleged inaction on petitions of misconducts against Mr Gabari.
In a three page petition, signed by Kabiru Saidu Dakata, its Executive Director and addressed to NJC Chairman and Chief Justice of Nigeria, the CSO accused the leadership of Kano judiciary of inaction to complaints on various acts of corruption,discriminatory/preferential treatments of litigants and biases in the direction of cases to the magistrate courts.
In the petition, dated March 15, CAJA said the magistrate, who its findings reveal, is notorious for doing the biddings of government, citing at least six cases involving critics of the governor.