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Judge’s absence stalls trial of ex-Niger Gov, Babangida Aliyu, others

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Former governor of Niger State, Dr Babangida Aliyu

The trial of former governor of Niger State, Babangida Aliyu before Justice Mikailu Abdullahi of the Niger State High Court for alleged N2 billion fraud, could not proceed as scheduled on Wednesday, October 23, 2019, due to the absence of the judge.

Aliyu is being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, along with his then Chief of Staff, Umar Nasko, and the Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Niger State Chapter, Barrister Tanko Beji, on seven-count amended charges, bordering on criminal breach of trust.

At the last hearing, Wednesday, October 23 and Thursday, October 24, were fixed for continuation of trial and cross-examination of the first prosecution witness, (PW1), Bala Muhammad, an operative of the EFCC.

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Though prosecution counsel, Ocholi Okutepa and Hadiza Afegbua were present in court on October 23, for the cross-examination and continuation of trial, the trial judge, Justice Abdullahi, was absent.

No reason was given for his absence as both the prosecution and defence counsel agreed to move proceedings to November 7, 2019.

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One of the charges against the defendants reads: “That you, Tanko Beji, sometime between 1st January, 2011 and 31st May, 2011 in Minna within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, abetted the commission of criminal breach of trust by intentionally aiding Dr. Muazu Babangida Aliyu, the former governor (also known as Chief Servant) of Niger State to dishonestly convert to his own use, the sum of N937,110,500 which was withdrawn from Niger State Government House Security Account.”

They all pleaded not guilty to the charges.

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