By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
ABUJA – An Abuja High Court in Maitama, yesterday, okayed a former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai, for trial over an amended criminal charge filed against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
Trial Justice Sadiq Umar granted the anti-graft agency leave to arraign him in court on April 7, shortly after he dismissed a preliminary objection filed before him by el-Rufai, challenging the jurisdiction of the EFCC to prosecute him.
EFCC is alleging that he by-passed due process to illegally allocate several plots of lands to his wives, friends and relatives, after he had used his powers as the FCT Minister and revoked the title deeds of such lands from its original owners.
Though the matter was filed against him by the Federal Government since 2009, full blown trial could not commence on the matter owing to the preliminary objection filed against the suit by the former minister.
Meantime, El Rufai yesterday declared his preparedness to face trial. This was contained in a statement he issued through his media adviser, Mr Muyiwa Adekeye, in Abuja.
According to the statement, “Mallam Nasir el-Rufai has restated his determination to vigorously defend the land allocation case the Federal Government filed against him in 2009.”