By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
The Abuja division of the Federal High Court has voided an investigative committee report that indicted two former governors of Bauchi State, Isa Yuguda and Mohammed Abubakar, of alleged complicity in the illegal diversion of about N321.5 billion belonging to the state.
The court, in a judgement that was delivered by Justice Inyang Ekwo, held that the Assets and Fund Recovery Committee the incumbent governor of the state, Bala Mohammed, set up to probe his two predecessors, was unlawful.
Both Yuguda and Abubakar, who served as governors between 2007 and 2019, had approached the court to challenge the legal validity of the probe committee which they contended was constituted under a repealed law. The plaintiff alleged that they were denied fair hearing by the committee.
While accusing the Bauchi State Government of embarking on a witch-hunt exercise aimed to tarnish their reputation, the plaintiffs, prayed the court to not only declare the committee as illegal, but to also invalidate its report that indicted them.
Aside from the Bauchi State Government, other defendants in the matter were the State Security Service (SSS), the Nigeria Police Force (NPF), the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC) and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) .
Meanwhile, Bauchi State Government, through its Attorney-General, shunned the suit. Consequently, in his judgement, Justice Ekwo, who noted that Bauchi State Attorney-General failed to honour a subpoena the court issued to compel his attendance to the proceedings, further observed that the state did not also adduce any legal instrument it relied upon to set up the probe panel.
The court said there was nothing before it to establish that the panel was validly set up.
“Without evidence of the executive instrument or order of the 5th defendant (Bauchi State Government) which established the said committee, it means that the 5th defendant has not effectively controverted the assertion of the plaintiffs.
“Furthermore, since the executive instrument is in the possession of the 5th defendant and it failed or refused to produce it in either their counter affidavit or further counter-affidavit, it in my opinion means that it is being withheld by the 5th defendant.”