N11 billion fraud: Court adjourns ex-Gov. Shema, others case to Nov. 12

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Ibrahim Shema
Ibrahim Shema

Abubakar Buba, an operative of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission on Tuesday told the Katsina State High Court how billions of naira were siphoned from the account of Katsina State Local Government Joint Account.

Mr Buba who was led in evidence by prosecution counsel Usem Uket revealed that upon receipt of the petition, his team sent letters of investigation to all the banks that came up in the petition requesting for account opening packages and account statements of each of State Local Government Joint Account ALGON and that of ministry for local government and Chieftaincy Affairs.

He explained that upon receipt of the documents, the Commission swung into action by analysing the documents during which they discovered that billions of naira were moved from the State Local Government Joint Account through the Ministry for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs and finally ended into ALGON account.

Mr Buba stated that when his team made that discovery, the 2nd and 3rd accused persons were invited to explain the movement of such funds.

The witness further stated that during investigation of the 2nd and 3rd accused persons, 14 different payment vouchers were recovered from them all of which carries the approval of the 1st accused person, Ibrahim Shema.

Attached with the payment vouchers were minutes of meeting that was held in February 2013 and September 2014 where it was purportedly agreed that 10% of quarterly local governments funds be deducted from source for security of the local governments. It was further purported by the same minute that 30% of local governments monthly allocation be also deducted from source for the purpose of Joint projects.

After the above discovery, the 4th defendant who was the chairman of ALGON Katsina State Chapter was also invited to shed light on the purpose for all those disbursements into his association’s account.

The commission discovered 11 payment vouchers and receipts from the 3rd accused person most of which were later discovered to be non-existing dealers with fake addresses and even those that were traced denied supplying anything to the ALGON branch of Katsina State.

Most of them claimed that one Bello Bindawa approached them and requested for blank receipt which they gave to him.

Bello Bindawa who was a storekeeper at the Ministry for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs Katsina, claimed that he was instructed by the 3rd accused person to help ALGON with documents to cover its expenditure.

When asked whether he has received any item from the 4th accused person on behalf of ALGON, Mr Bindawa revealed during investigation that he has never received any item from the ALGON chairman, the 4th accused person.

The prosecution counsel applied to tender the petitions received by the Commission but was objected to do so by the defence counsel but were eventually overruled by the court.

Justice Bako admitted the petitions and marked them as exhibits 7 and 8 as according to him, the petitions are relevant to the proceeding of the entire case.

After the petitions were tendered, counsel representing the first accused person Adedayo Adedeji applied that the witness read the petitions to the hearing of the court. Buba did as he was told.

Mr Uket then applied to tender the account statements of the State Local Government Joint Account, Ministry for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs and that of ALGON as well as certificate of compliance.

All the counsel representing the accused persons objected to the admissibility of the said document on ground that the witness is not the maker of the documents. They argued that if the documents were tendered through the witness, it will deprived them of their right to cross examine the witness.

They also claimed that the documents being public documents ought to be certified and for the lack of that, they urge the court to reject them.

J.S Okutepa SAN from the prosecution side replied that the document being original, ought not to be certified before being tendered. He further addressed the issue of the witness not being the maker of the documents, so he is not fit to tender them according to the counsels representing the accused persons.

Mr Okutepa argued that the witness being the investigation officer of the case obtained the documents during investigation. Therefore, he is fit to tender the documents.

After listening to the arguments of both parties, Justice Bako adjourned the matter to November 12, 2018 for ruling and continuation of hearing.

Mr Shema was charged alongside Sani Makana, Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs; Lawal Safana, Permanent Secretary for Local government and Chieftaincy Affairs and Ibrahim Dankaba, chairman, Association of Local Government of Nigeria, ALGON, Katsina State Chapter, for allegedly diverting public funds to the tune of N11billion during his tenure as governor between 2012 and May 2015.