…Defendants Take Fresh Pleas on Amended Charges
Justice Mikail Aliyu of the Niger State High Court today adjourned further hearing in the corruption trial of a former Niger State governor, Muazu Babangida Aliyu and two others; Tanko Beji and Umar Nasko till February 21, 22, 23, 24 and 25, 2022.
At the last session on Wednesday, December 1, 2021, the tenth prosecution witness and former Permanent Secretary, Government House, Hamisu Musa Jankaro had told the court how Umar Nasko, as Chief of Staff to Aliyu, instructed the disbursement of monies from the Security Vote. Various documents were tendered and admitted in evidence. The court subsequently adjourned to today December 2, for the prosecution to present another witness.
However at today’s sitting, prosecuting counsel, Abdulllah Faruk informed the court that the witness, Ahmed Garba, former cashier of the Niger State Government House, and present Emir of Kagara, could not make it to court because of security challenges in his area which forced security operatives to restrict vehicular movement.
“I wish to apologize; the witness penciled down to testify before this court is still unable to make it to the court. His lawyer called me this morning to inform me that his client cannot make it to the court due to banditry that forced security operatives to block the road, “he said.
Faruk thereafter filed two applications, seeking to amend the charges because of a citation omission.
The application was filed on the 15th of October 2021 and supported by a four-paragraph affidavit.
Without any objection from the defence counsel, Faruk requested that the charge be read to the defendants to take their pleas.
Justice Aliyu granted the prayer, and read the seven amended count charges to the defendants.
Count Four of the Charge reads; “That you, Dr. Muazu Babangida Aliyu being the former Governor (also known as Chief Servant) of Niger State from 2007 to 2015 sometime between April 2015 and May 2015 in Minna within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court while being entrusted with dominion over money belonging to Niger State Government dishonestly converted to your own use the sum of N 1,090,000,000.00 (one billion, ninety million naira) which formed part of the proceeds of the sale of 16% shares of Niger State in North South Power Company limited and thereby committed an offence contrary to section 311 of the Penal Code of Niger State Cap 94, Vol.3 Laws of Niger State of Nigeria, 1989 and punishable under Section 312of the same Code”.
Count two reads; “That you. Dr. Muazu Babangida Aliyu, being the former Governor (also known as Chief Servant) of Niger State from 2007 to 2015, sometime between 1st January, 2011 and 31st May, 2011 in Minna within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court while being entrusted with dominion over money belonging to Niger State Government dishonestly converted to your own use the sum of N937,110,500.00 (nine hundred and thirty seven million, one hundred and ten thousand, five hundred naira) which was withdrawn from Niger State Government House Security Account number 1012424374 domiciled in Zenith Bank Plc and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 311 of the Penal Code of Niger State, Cap 94, Vol. 3, Laws of Niger State of Nigeria, 1989 and punishable under Section 312 of the same Code”.
They pleaded not guilty to the charges.
In view of their pleas, the prosecuting counsel requested a date for trial.
But counsel to the third defendant, Chief Mamman Mike SAN, informed the court of his intention to recall all the ten witnesses he had earlier cross-examined, which the prosecuting counsel objected to.