SOKOTO â€”Â Former governor of Sokoto State, Alhaji Attahiru Bafarawa, was yesterday arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, before Justice Bello Abbas of the Sokoto High Court 3 on a 47-count charge of fraudulent practices while in office between 1999 and 2007.
The ex-governor was arrested last Wednesday over an alleged N15 billion fraud and detained on the order of a court before his arraignment yesterday alongside some officials who served in his government.
Also arraigned were some contractors for alleged breach of trust, misappropriation of public funds and money laundering, among others.
Of 16 accused persons, nine were in court while seven were said to be at large. Those arraigned alongside Bafarawa were Alhaji Nasiru Dalhatu Bafarawa, younger brother of the former governor;Â Alhaji Isa Sadiq Achida, former Commissioner for Water Resources; Hajia Aishatu Binji, former Commissioner for Finance; Sen. Salihu Bakwai, former chairman of the state Education Resuscitation Committee; Alhaji Salihu Maibuhu Gunmi, a contractor; Alhaji Adamu Gurori, a Director of Finance in the Ministry of Local Government; Sambo Bello Danchadi, a permanent secretary in the same ministry as well as Alhaji Habibu Halilu Modaci, who was a commissioner in the ministry.
Those at large are Alhaji Abdullahi Ahmed Bida, a businessman; Chief Mike Umeh, a clearing agent; Alhaji Umaru Kwambo; Shehu Koko, a banker; Ubale Yahaya; Alhaji Maigari Dingyadi, former Secretary to the State Government and Alhaji Tukur Alkali, a former special adviser.
Part of the charges reads: â€œThat you, Alhaji Attahiru Dalhatu Bafarawa, whilst being the executive governor of Sokoto State and Hajia Aishatu Binji whilst being the Commissioner for Finance of Sokoto State, Shehu Koko, the branch manager, UBA Plc Sokoto and Sokoto State Government accounts officer and others now at large between May 2003 and April 2007, and within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, conspired,without any approval by the State Executive Council to sell UBA Plc shares belonging to Sokoto State government and thereby commited an offence contrary to section 96 (1) and punishable under section 97 (1) of the Penal Code.”
Counsel to EFCC, Chief Adeniyi Akintola, SAN, asked the court that the charges be read to the accused, a position which counsel to the 1st, 2nd, 4th, 5th, 11th, 12th, 13th, and 14th accused persons objected to, saying the charges were just served on their clients and therefore pleaded for time to study them before they can take their pleas.
He therefore requested a 30-minute leave to enable them study the charges.
Counsel to other accused persons also adopted the same position, after which the judge granted the request.
When the court resumed sitting, the defence counsel came up with another application to have the case adjourned for seven days before filing their response to the charges, a request that was turned down by the judge after a serious argument by the prosecution counsel. The defence counsel thereafter sought an oral application for bail for the accused, a position that was equally countered by the prosecution counsel.
Hearing on the bail application was however adjourned to December 21, 2009 after the Judge ruled that the defence counsel should file a written bail application. He equally directed that all the accused be remanded in prison custody.