By Ben Agande, Kaduna.
Ruling in the case filed by the former governor of Katsina state, Ibrahim Shema challenging his trial by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has been reserved indefinitely by the Court of Appeal sitting in Kaduna.
Ibrahim Shema had filed an interlocutory application at the Appeal Court on May 25, 2017, challenging his trial by a Katsina State High Court over alleged corruption.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had arraigned the former governor and three others before Justice Maikaita Bako of the State High Court for allegedly defrauding the state of N11 billion during his eight years as Governor of the state.
Shema challenged his arraignment at the Katsina State High Court seeking to stop his prosecution by the EFCC, sighting issues of jurisdiction and right to fair hearing but lost.
He later approached the Appeal Court and secured a stay of action and stopped the trial Court from further hearing his case, pending the determination of his motion before the Appeal Court.
However, at the resumed hearing of the case in the Appeal Court on May 26, 2017, Counsel to the Appealant, J.B. Daudu, again submitted an oral application seeking clearance from the Supreme Court, on a constitutional bridge on the number of Justices assigned to hear the appeal.
He had argued that five Justices and not three should be allowed to hear such motion, according to provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
The defence counsel, Lateef Fagbemi, however, dismissed the motion as baseless , but urged the court for shorter adjournement to enhance accelerated hearing into the substantive suit pending before the Katsina High Court.
Justice Ibrahim Shatta, who had presided on the motion granted Daudu’s application on Jurisdiction and adjourned hearing of the Appeal till Nov 9.
At the resumed hearing of the Appeal, J.B. Daudu, who is the lead Counsel, to the appellant, urged the Court to rule in his client’s favour and dismiss the case in the trial Court, arguing that he was not allowed access to “State facilities” that would accelerate fair hearing in the case.
He described the trial of the former governor in Katsina as a “vindictive and oppressive” exercise that is capable of breaching his Fundamental Human Right.
But in his submission counsel to the federal government , Mr S. T Olugunurisa, urged the Appeal Court to dismiss Shema’s appeal and allow the trial Court to proceed with the alleged fraud case against him.
He argued that the former governor filed the appeal only to delay the trial.
After listening to the arguments of both parties, Justice Mshelia, who led four other Justices, adjourned indefinitely for ruling in the Appeal.
She said, the parties would be communicated when a date for ruling on the Appeal was fixed.