Alleged N11bn Fraud: EFCC Re-Arraigns Shema, Begins Trial

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has re-arraigned a former governor of Katsina State, Mr Ibrahim Shema.

The former governor was re-arraigned on Tuesday alongside three others before Justice Maikaita Bako of the Katsina State High Court on a 24-count amended charge.

Other defendants are the Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Sani Makana; a permanent secretary in the Ministry for Local Government Affairs, Lawal Rufai, and the Chairman of Association of Local Government of Nigeria (ALGON) in Katsina State, Ibrahim Dankaba.

According to a statement by the EFCC spokesman, Wilson Uwujaren, the accused persons were first arraigned before the same court on February 21, 2017, for allegedly conniving to divert more than N11billion from the coffers of Katsina State while Mr Shema was governor.

On the last adjourned date, the prosecution informed the court of its victory at the Supreme Court which dismissed the application of the former governor and his co-accused to stop their trial.

The prosecution also informed the court of its decision to amend the charge.

At the resumed hearing on April 10, 218, the amended charge was read to the accused persons and they all entered a plea of not guilty.

In view of their plea, the prosecution counsel, Sam Ologunorisa, informed the court of his readiness to proceed to trial.

Following no objection from the counsel representing the accused persons, the first prosecution witness, Ibrahim Dabo Bujawa entered the witness box.

In his evidence, Bujawa who is a former Auditor General of Katsina State who retired in 2004, told the court that he chaired the Committee of Investigation of State and Local Government finances set up by the present governor of the state, Aminu Masari.

In laying the foundation of his evidence, the witness explained how monies belonging to the Local Governments should legally be distributed.

He said, “The local governments normally access their money from the Federation Account through State Local Government Joint Account. When money comes from the Federation Account, it goes to the State Joint Local Account and subsequently distributed to local governments by the Joint Account Committee popularly known as JAAC Committee.”

According to him, “ the functions of the JAAC Committee as provided by Katsina State Government is to meet on monthly basis in order to distribute funds sent from the Federation Account to some statutory bodies such as Local Government Service Commission, Primary Education Board, Local Government Pension Board and the two Emirate Councils of Katsina and Daura based on percentage allocated to them by the respective laws”.

When asked if the first accused person, Shema, was at any time a member of the JAAC Committee, the witness answered no, stressing that a governor does not play any role in the distribution of the money.

When asked as to whether his investigation committee had discharged its mandate, the witness replied in affirmative.

He added that his investigation revealed that between 2007 and 2015 when Shema was governor, the JAAC Committee did not meet even once as provided by law.

Bujawa was, however, cut short by the counsel representing the third accused, B.Y. Kura, who argued that the witness cannot give oral evidence on a written document.

Kura stated that since there was investigation report already documented, such report should be tendered before anyone gives evidence about it.

In view of the objection of the learned silk, the prosecution counsel asked the court for an adjournment to enable him to provide the report to the court.

The case was adjourned till May 30 for the continuation of trial.

EFCC vs Shema: Katsina High Court Fixes New Date To Commence Trial

Justice Mai Kaita Bako, of the Katsina High Court, has fixed April 10, 11, 12, 2018 to continue the trial between the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and former governor of Katsina state, Ibrahim Shema.

This comes after the Appeal Court sitting in Kaduna had trashed the application filed by the former governor to stop his ongoing trial by the Katsina State Government on grounds that he was not availed documents pertaining to the petition against him.

The court, however, admitted the right of an accused to be availed documents pertaining to charges against him but said, Shema’s application could not stand as it was filed prematurely and before a plea was taken.

Shema is being charged alongside three others, Sani Hamisu Makana, Lawal Ahmad Safana and Ibrahim Lawal Dankaba before Justice Maikaita Bako of the Katsina State High Court for the alleged offences of criminal breach of trust, abuse of office and conversion of public funds to the tune of over 11 billion Naira during his tenure as governor.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), had on September 26, 2016, declared the former governor wanted for an alleged fraud amounting to 76 billion Naira.

The anti-graft agency said the decision was made because Mr Shema had ignored all invitations since 2015 to answer questions about the allegations made by the current governor of the state, Governor Aminu Masari.

The agency further added that the former Katsina governor is wanted for criminal conspiracy, inflation of contracts, abuse of office, diversion of funds and embezzlement, adding that all efforts to locate him has also proved unsuccessful.

But the incumbent governor of the state, Bello Masari is said to have been displeased with the handover note he received from his predecessor and thereafter set a panel to investigate the management of the state’s finances by Mr Shema, vowing to ensure that all stolen funds are returned to the government coffers.

 

 

 

EFCC Arraigns Shema, 3 Others Over N11b Fraud

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission today, February 21, 2017, arraigned the former Governor of Katsina State Ibrahim Shehu Shema and three others before Honourable Justice Maikaita Bako of the Katsina State High Court on a twenty-two count charge of Criminal Breach of Trust, forgery and using as genuine.

Shema is being charged alongside three others – Sani Hamisu Makana, Lawal Ahmad Safana and Ibrahim Lawal Dankaba – for allegedly diverting public funds to the tune of over N11b to their personal use during his tenure as Governor of Katsina State.

One of the charge read that “You Ibrahim Shehu Shema whilst being the Governor of Katsina, Sani Hamisu Makana whilst being Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Katsina State, Lawal Ahmad Safana whilst being the Permanent Secretary for Local government and Chieftaincy Affairs of Katsina State and Ibrahim Lawal Dankaba whilst being the Chairman Association of Local Government of Nigeria, Katsina State Chapter, between September, 2012 and May 2015 at Katsina, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court were entrusted with certain property to wit; an aggregate sum of N4,463,600,000 (Four Billion, Four Hundred and Sixty Three Million, Six Hundred Thousand Nairn Only) committed a criminal breach of trust in respect of the said sum by transferring it from Katsina State Joint Local Government Account domiciled at Access Bank , Katsina Branch to the account of ALGON domiciled at Union Bank, Katsina Branch and subsequently withdrew same and dishonesty convert it to your personal use (under various guises including funding security intervention fund to all the 34 local governments in Katsina State and falsely described in several payment vouchers and memos) and thereby committed and offence contrary to section 311 and punishable under section 312 of Penal Code Cape 96 Laws of Katsina State, 1991.

When the charge was read, Shema and his co-accused, pleaded not guilty. However, counsel for the prosecution Jibrin S. Okutepa SAN applied for a trial date and also asked that the accused persons be remanded in prison custody since there was no motion for their bail before the court.

J. B Daudu SAN, for the accused persons applied orally that his clients be admitted to bail. Okutepa opposed the oral application for bail made by the defence counsel. He argued that now that the court has assumed jurisdiction and that the charge has been read, there is a possibility of the accused persons escaping if granted bail. He urged the court to consider the gravity of the offence and refuse the oral bail application and order the defence counsel to apply formally.

In his ruling after listening to the argument of both counsels, Justice Bako granted the accused persons bail in the sum of N1,000,000,000 (One Billion Naira Only) and surety in like sum.

The case has been adjourned to 28th and 29th of March, 2017 for the commencement of trial.

Earlier before the charge was read, Justice Bako had dismissed two applications filed by the accused persons through their counsel J.B Daudu SAN which challenges the jurisdiction of the court and competency of the charge. Both applications were resolved in favour of the respondents.

EFCC