Ex-gov, Jonathan’s minister sent to prison over N800m

By Admin on 01/06/2018

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For about three hours yesterday, prison officials were held hostage within the premises of the Federal High Court in Kaduna by supporters of a former governor of the state, Alhaji Mukhtar Ramalan Yero, who were protesting against his remand in prison as directed by Justice Mohammed Shuaibu.

The judge gave the order for the remand of the former governor following his arraignment by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) alongside a former state chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Abubakar Gaiya Haruna; former Minister of State for Power, Nuhu Wya and former Secretary to the Kaduna State Government, Hamza Ishaq, for alleged N800 million fraud.

The protesters, who had since 8a.m. besieged the court premises to protest against the arraignment of the former governor and others, carried placards with various inscriptions like: ‘Yero is not a thief’, ‘2019: Sai Yero’, among others. Hell was, however, let loose immediately after the conclusion of the case at about 1p.m. as the pro-Yero protesters made efforts to stop prison officials from taking the defendants to the prison from the court.

Security operatives, including police and the prison warders, had to fire gunshots into the air to disperse the protesters who were throwing stones into the court premises to prevent the defendants from being taken away. Justice Shuaibu had earlier ordered the remand of Yero and his co-accused in prison till June 6 when their bail applications is expected to be heard.

The quartet was arraigned by the anti-graft agency on a four-count charge of conspiracy, bribery, money laundering and criminal diversion of funds. They, however, pleaded not guilty to the charge. Upon their arraignment, EFCC’s lawyer, Joshua Saidi, while seeking for a trial date, also urged the court to remand the defendants in prison. On his part, defence lawyer, Yunus Ustaz Usman (SAN), made an oral bail application for his clients. Justice Shuaibu refused an oral application for bail of the accused, insisting that formal application be filed before the court.

The accused was remanded in prison custody and the case adjourned to June 6, 2018 for hearing of bail application. Specifically, Kaduna State was alleged to have gotten over N800 million in two installments of N700 million and N190 million.

The money was said to have been received by the former governor’s co-accused for onward delivery to staff of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) spread across the 23 local government areas of the state. Count one of the charge reads:

“That you, Mukhtar Ramalan Yero (whilst being the Executive Governor of Kaduna State), Nuhu Somo Wya (whilst being a former Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria), Ishaq Hamza (whilst being the Secretary to the Kaduna State Government), and Abubakar Gaya Haruna (whilst being the Chairman PDP Kaduna State Chapter), sometime in 2015 in Kaduna, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court (Federal High Court) did conspire amongst yourselves to commit a crime to wit: indirectly taking possession of N700 million which you ought to have known forms part of unlawful activity to wit: bribery and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 18(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011 (as amended) in 2012 and punishable under Section 15(3) of the Same Act.”

In a related development, the anti-graft agency also arraigned one Abdulrasheed Baba Ahmed before Justice Shuaibu on a twocount charge of money laundering and retention of proceeds of alleged criminal activity.

He, however, pleaded not guilty to the charge. The defendant, who was Director, Finance and Administration, Ministry of Justice, Kaduna State, is alleged to have, in March 2015, collected N190.4 million from the former Petroleum Minister. He was said to have cashed the money from the Ali Akilu Road branch of a new generation bank.

The money was allegedly meant to compromise staff of INEC and Corps members on election duties. One of the counts read: “That you, Raheed Baba Ahmed, the former Director of Finance, Ministry of Justice, Kaduna Division of this Honourable Court, did directly take possession of the aggregate sum of N190,444,000 which sum you reasonably ought to have known forms part of proceeds of unlawful activity to wit: bribery, and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 15(2) of the Money Laundering ( Prohibition) Act , 2012 (as amended) and punishable under Section 15(3) of the same Act.”

A number of former governors and stalwarts of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) are currently standing trial for allegedly benefitting from the $115 million allegedly shared by former Petroleum Minister, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke Among those presently being tried for allegedly benefiting from the slush fund are former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Jumoke Akinjide; former senator representing Oyo Central Senatorial District, Ayo Adeseun; a PDP leader in Oyo State, Chief Olarenwaju Otiti. Others are; former governor of Kano State, Ibrahim Shekarau; a former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Aminu Wali; former deputy governor of Sokoto State, Mukhtar Shagari; former governorship candidate of the party in Edo State, Osagie Ize-Iyamu and chairman of party in the state, Dan Orbih. Akinjide, Adeseun and Otiti were alleged to have received N650 million from Mrs. Diezani.

On their part, Shekarau, Wali and Ahmad were accused of collecting N950 million, while Ize-Iyamu, Orbih and three orders were also accused of collecting N700 million from the $115 million. A former Deputy Governor of Sokoto State and ex- Water Resources Minister, Mukhtar Shagari and four others are also being tried for collecting N500 million.



Source New TYelegraph

Posted on June, 1 2018

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