By Abdulsalam Muhammad
KANO—A Federal High Court, sitting in Kano, yesterday, ordered former Jigawa State governor, Sule Lamido, and his two sons, Aminu and Mustapha, accused of fraud, remanded in prison custody in Kano till September 28.
The former governor is facing a 28-count charge alongside his two sons, and one Wada Abubakar in connection with alleged corruption and money laundering that amounted to over N1.35 billion.
Lamido who was arraigned for receiving N1.35 billion kickback from a government contractor was shocked and could not believe his ears after the judge turned down his bail application and ordered him remanded.
Immediately the court rose and the Deputy Chief Registrar of Federal High Court, Mr Solomon Akpedah ushered the former governor and his two sons into a waiting van for a journey to Kano central prison, Lamido exclaimed saying: “You mean I am now a prisoner”? The Deputy Chief Registrar, however, tried to calm him down saying “No sir, you are not a prisoner”.
The alleged fraud money was allegedly paid into accounts controlled by the governor and his sons.
The Economic & Financial Crimes Commission has accused the four suspects of money laundering, among other charges.
They were due for arraignment, Wednesday, but the court appearance was rescheduled to yesterday. Security was stepped up around the court vicinity in Kano ahead of the hearing.
Delivering a ruling, Justice Evelyn Anyadike ordered that the four accused persons be remanded in a Kano Prison because the EFCC said they lacked enough facilities to accommodate them.
She rejected the pleas of defence counsel, Effiong Effiong, SAN, that the accused be kept in EFCC custody, saying the commission had complained of inadequate facilities.
Justice Anyadike said: “The case is hereby adjourned for hearing till September 28, while the four accused persons are to be remanded in prison custody in Kano”.
The trial judge further ruled that “the case will be handed over to a vacation judge to listen to the bail application while the judiciary goes on vacation next Monday.
A 28-count charge bordering on a number of alleged breaches of trust by Sule Lamido, Aminu Sule Lamido, Mustapha Sule Lamido and one Aminu Wada Abubakar, was read in court.
They pleaded not guilty after the charges were read to them.
The judge ruled that the accused persons be remanded pending the hearing of their bail applications.
Earlier, the defence counsel, Mr. Effiong, had argued that remanding the accused persons in prison would amount to trampling on their fundamental human rights.
He pleaded that they be sent to either of EFCC’s facilities in Abuja or Kano.
However, counsel to EFCC, Chile Okoroma, objected to the plea, saying EFCC’s facilities were full to capacity both in Kano and Abuja.
There was pandemonium in court between those supporting Mr. Lamido and those against him, leading the Police to fire tear-gas canisters into the air to disperse the crowd.
The former governor and all the other accused persons had entered a plea of not guilty to the 28 count charges.
Lamido who had earlier pleaded with a court attendant to switch off the ceiling fan directly over him, explained that “I have catarrh and I don’t want anything that will aggravate the situation.”
The defence lawyer, who noticed the physical condition of his 69-year-old client pleaded orally for him to sit down but was overruled by the presiding judge who declared that such gesture runs foul of the established rules. Lamido and his co-accused persons were subsequently transported to Kano central prison amidst tight security.