N25billion Fraud: Senator Goje’s security phobia

on   /   in Politics 12:42 am   /   Comments

By John Bulus
Senator Mohammad Danjuma Goje has suddenly developed fear. His fear is consequent upon the rising tide of insecurity in his home state, Gombe and in fact, the entire North East region.

His fear however comes very surprising to the people of the state who knew him so well. For starters, Goje was the immediate past Governor of the State for eight years and his reign smacked the state of visible opposition as his Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) bulldozed it way across the horizon of the state.

*Goje...pleads not guilty

*Goje…pleads not guilty

Similarly, Goje holds a chieftaincy title of “Sarkin Yarkin Gombe”, meaning “Head of Warriors of Gombe”. And so, by that, no one expected that “a sarkin yarkin” could fathom fear. But that was the case in Gombe last week when Goje asked the Federal High Court hearing the case of money laundering brought against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, to relocate his case to another location away from both his state and the entire north eastern geo-political zone.

Established upon his first arraignment on October 18, 2011, roughly 5 months after he exited office as governor on May 29, 2011, he was slammed along side four others with 18-count charge. The four accused persons included Alhaji Sabo Mohammed Tumu, former Gombe State Government House food supplier; Alhaji Aliyu Ubadone el-Nafaty, former Executive Chairman, State Universal Basic Education Board, Gombe; S. M. Dokoro, proprietor of S. M. Dokoro and M. Dokoro Gombe.

Part of the charges read: “That you, Alhaji Danjuma Goje “M”, former Executive Governor of Gombe State, Nigeria; sometimes between May 2003 and May 2011, in Gombe within the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court, with attempt to covert, conspired with others to conceal or disguise the sum of 5,000,000,000.00 (Five Billion Naira only) property of Gombe State Government, which was, or in whole or in part, directly or indirectly, represented proceeds of an illegal act, contrary to Section 17 of the Money laundering (Prohibition Act) 2004 and also punishable under Section 14 of the same Act as amended, modifies and retained under Section 15, 16, 17, 18 and 19 of the Money laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011(As amended).
“That you Alhaji Danjuma Goje “M”, former Executive Governor of Gombe State, Nigeria; Alhaji Sabo Mohammed Tumu ‘M’ being Gombe state Government House Supplier; and others, between May 2003 and May 2011 within the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court, with attempt to covert, conspired among yourselves and others to conceal or disguise the sum of 1,920,000.00 (One Billion, Nine Hundred and Twenty Million Naira only, property of Gombe State government, which was, or in whole or in part, directly or indirectly, represented proceeds of an illegal act, contrary to Section 17 of the Money Laundering (prohibition Act) 2004 and also punishable under Section 14 of the same act as amended, modified and retained under Sections 15, 16, 17, 18 and 19 respectively of the money laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011 (As Amended).

“That you Alhaji Danjuma Goje ‘M’, former Executive Governor of Gombe State, Nigeria; Alhaji Aliyu Ubadone El_Nafaty ‘M’, former Executive Chairman, State Universal basic Education Board, Gombe; and others, sometimes between May 2003 and May 2011, in Gombe, within the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court, with attempt to covert, conspired among yourselves and others to conceal or disguise the sum of N1, 661, 451, 371.64 (one Billion, Six Hundred and Sixty one Million, Four Hundred and Fifty One Thousand, three Hundred and Seventy-One Naira, sixty Four Kobo only, property of Gombe State  Government, which was, or in whole or in part, directly or indirectly, represented proceeds of an illegal act, contrary to Section 17 of the Money Laundering (Prohibition act) 2004 and also punishable under Section 14 of the same Act as amended, modified and retained under
sections 15, 16, 17, 18 and 19 of the Money laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011 (As Amended).

“That you, Alhaji Danjuma Goje “M’, former Executive Governor of Gombe State, Nigeria; S. M. Doko ‘M’ being the proprietor of S. M. Dokoro Gombe; S. M. Dokoro Gombe and others, sometimes between January 2008 and May 2011, in Gombe within the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court with attempt to convert, conspired among yourselves and others to conceal or disguise the sum of 242, 500,000.00 (Two Hundred and Forty Million, Five Hundred Thousand Naira only), property of Gombe
State Government, which was, or in whole or in part, directly or indirectly, represented proceeds of an illegal act, contrary to Section 17 of the Money laundering (Prohibition act) 2004 and also punishable under Section 14 of the same Act as amended, modified and retained under Section 15, 16, 17, 18 and 19 respectively of the Money laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011( As Amended)”.

Meanwhile, when the matter came up for further hearing during the week, precisely on Tuesday, Goje through his lead counsel, Mr. Chris Uche (SAN) let out a yell that insecurity pervades Gombe and the
entire North east and so does not guarantee the safety of his lawyers and witnesses. As a result of that, he applied for relocation of the case to another destination outside the region. According to Uche, the lives of the visiting lawyers of both parties are in “great jeopardy in an atmosphere that could affect justice.”

The SAN expanded his grounds and cited the cases of the recent kidnapping of a serving member of the state House of Assembly, assassination of Police Inspector Gadzama who was Goje’s police orderly and the January 11 assassination of minority leader of the Gombe State House of Assembly as evidences of insecurity in Gombe. But the Prosecution Counsel, Mr. Wahaba Kunle Shittu voided the argument and advanced that the state of insecurity cuts across the country and not in any way peculiar to Gombe or the zone. He further submitted in his argument that all the witnesses to the case are in Gombe and therefore only wise if the case is tried in Gombe.

He urged the court to refuse the application for the transfer of venue as filed by the defence counsel, arguing that the case is not the only one that is politically sensitive. In an apparent move to study the argument of both counsels, the presiding Judge, Mr. Babatunde Quadir adjourned the hearing to the next day. By 1pm on Wednesday when sitting resumed, the court had become apprehensive and placed observers on tenterhooks on which way the ruling will head to.
But finally in his ruling, Justice Quadir said: “This application is hereby rejected for now. However if any of the accused, counsels or witnesses is harassed, no matter how little, even if it is a phone call, please inform the court”.
He also said that although there has been series of attack in Gombe and other parts of the country, the rights of all the accused to fair hearing have not been infringed just as he noted that none of the accused persons or Counsels has been attacked or subjected to any threat since the case commenced, adding that relocating the venue will elicit different impression to public.

Advancing further in his ruling, Justice Quardir said no session of the court has been interrupted by a security threat since the beginning of hearing on the case.

By the ruling, Senator Goje has got to continue his trial in Gombe, the state he superintended over its affairs for 8 years. His counsel, Uche (SAN) in a reaction to the judgment of the court told Journalists that his team will be heading to the higher courts to test the validity of the judgment.

Said he:“There is the Court of Appeal and there is the Supreme Court. We will use them to test the might of this ruling” he said. Similarly, counsel to EFCC, Mr. Shittu said “The Judge did not only expand but expound the law by stating the Jurisprudence the way it should be. We are ready to go on with the case till justice is done.”

Meanwhile, the case was adjourned to 7th and 8th of March 2013 for further hearing.

 

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