A Federal High court in Kano State on Monday rejected a Motion on Notice filed by the lawyer of Economic and Financial Crime Commission, EFCC, Johnson Ojogbane to transfer a case involving the former governor of the state, Ibrahim Shekarau away from the state.
Mr Shekarau was re-arraigned by the EFCC, alongside former external affairs minister, Aminu Wali and one Mansur Ahmad on a six-count charge bordering on conspiracy and money laundering to the tune of N950 million.
Mr Ojogbane argued that the rationale behind the move to transfer the case, was not unconnected to the breakdown of law and order, resulting to a face-off between the supporters of Shekarau and security personnel at the court premises on the first arraignment day.
Recall that there was a chaos during the first hearing of the case when the Shekarau’s supporters stormed the street to express solidarity to the former education minister, but were dispersed with teargas by Police.
According MrOjogbane, the EFCC operatives narrowly escaped lynching by the rampaging supporters who besieged the court, causing stampede before they were overpowered by Police.
He further told the court that the lives of his witnesses as well as himself was in danger for coming to testify against the defendants, hence, the need for an urgent transfer of the case to a more secured location within the country, especially Abuja.
“Considering the traumatic experience we went through during the first arraignment, and the series of threat we have received so far, the prosecution is very apprehensive.
“The 3 witnesses are also afraid to testify as they are being threatened by unknown persons.
” Now, only one of them agreed that his name should be used on the affidavit submitted before the court” he said
However, the Defense Counsel, Sam Ologunorisa, SAN, in his argument, countered the motion that it was just a ploy by the EFCC to stall the trial as it appeared they were not ready to continue the case.
According to him, the motion which was hurriedly filed before the court on the 13th of October 2018, which he received a copy on Friday 16th October, should not be granted as the court has no jurisdiction for such.
Mr Ologunorisa pointed out that, in a criminal case, it is not right, fair and proper for the prosecution to dictate, chose a venue or judge to preside over a case, adding that had contravened sections 222(1) and 45 of the Federal High Court, as well as section 93(1) of the Administration of Criminal Justice.
He noted that, the affidavit filed is self-contradictory as the first 3 witnesses on record are all EFCC’s operatives, arguing that the current motion has the name of one Aliyu Da’u Aliyu as a witness whom he said, was never a witness in the case that his alleged fear cannot inform the decision to transfer the case.
In his verdict, the presiding Judge, Luis Allagoa, dismissed the motion seeking for case transfer, and adjourned the case till 3rd and 4th December for trial.