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Home Crimes Watch Shema trial: ‘ EFCC operatives told me they received order from above ‘ – Witness
Shema trial: ‘ EFCC operatives told me they received order from above ‘ – Witness

Shema trial: ‘ EFCC operatives told me they received order from above ‘ – Witness

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Shema trial: ‘ EFCC operatives told me they received order from above ‘ – Witness

N11bn fraud: One more witness testified for Shema, 3 others as court adjourned to 18th Feb

Justice Mai Kaita Bako of the Katsina State High Court has adjourned the trial of a former governor of the state, Ibrahim Shema alongside three others to February 18, 2019.

The adjournment was according to a counsel for the defendant, Elisha Kurah (SAN) to enable the defence counsel to bring more witnesses to join the case.

Mr Kurah said the counsel has so far opened its defence with two witnesses, intending to invite more.

Earlier, a witness on Thursday 24th January, 2019 told a High Court sitting in Katsina that the operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) told him that they received “order from above” on the matter of N11bn fraud in which the former Governor of Katsina State, Alhaji Shehu Shema and three others are standing trial.

“The operatives treated me with respect. I think they were well brought up but when interrogating my client, they ordered me out because, according to them they got orders from above of the matter”, Mr Aliyu Ahmed Yola told Justice Bako Maikata of the State High Court 3.

The witness who is a legal practitioner said he was given the cold shoulder when he drew attention to the fact that his client, a former chairman of the Association of Local Governments of Nigeria, ALGON, in the State, Mallam Lawal Ibrahim Dankaba, who is the 4th defendant in the fraud matter needed him by his side when he was asked by EFCC to make statements on two separate occasions.

Barrister Yola was giving testimony in a “trial within trial” at the court over the rejection of three statements by Dankaba who told the court earlier that the statements were procured under duress.

Dankaba had said he was detained in underground cell, his house frisked, coerced and begged to implicate the former governor said he was also denied the services of his lawyer who came with him to the EFCC Intelligence and Special Operations Section (ISOS) of the EFCC in Abuja on January 25th and October 31st 2016, where statements were dictated to him by two anti-graft agents.

Corroborating Dankaba claims, Yola, whose appearance had been fiercely contested by the prosecution because he had appeared as a lawyer in the substantive suit said he was “asked to leave on both occasions” and he reminded “Mr Abu Fari, (EFCC operative) that it is a constitutional right of my client that he was infringing upon”.

“He (Fari) told me that it was not their practice to allow lawyers where they take statements from suspects”, Yola added.

The defendants are Shehu Shema, Sani Hamisu Makana, Lawal Ahmad Safana and Ibrahim Lawal Dankaba. They are being accused of diverting local government allocations for their personal benefit.

Counsel to EFCC. Mr U.J. Uket had pleaded that the testimony of Mr Yola was unethical. The EFCC counsel objected to Barrister Yola’s choice as a witness in the “trial within trial” stating that he had represented the defence team all through the various stages of the trial.

The defence team, however, convinced the court that it was important for the testimony to be taken because it substantially deals with issues bothering on a fair trial for the defence team. The court subsequently ruled that Mr Yola is competent to testify in the case.

The attorney turned witness had told the court that he became suspicious of the investigation and processes when his client (Dankaba) and his colleagues (former local government chairmen) were not only interrogated in EFCC facilities but in places like the office of the secretary to Katsina State Government and the State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice.

“I don’t understand that, my lord”, he said.

Dankaba had said after extensive investigation EFCC had told the Katsina State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Ahmad Usman El-Marzuq at a meeting held at the EFCC office in Abuja by EFCC operatives consisting of Abubakar Buba, Abu Fari and one Mr Edward that the commission did not have a water-tight case sufficient to secure conviction if the former governor was taken on trial.

“I was invited by EFCC on November 16, 2016. But what followed was a meeting. We were later asked to come to ISOS office of the commission for a meeting where I met the Hon. Attorney General, (Ahmad) El-Marzuq and Rabe Nasir. They (State Government officials) demanded an update and Barrister Etuk (pointing) told them that EFCC has professionally done their investigation and they do not have enough evidence to prosecute the matter”, Dankaba told the court.

However, the former LG boss in his evidence advance to quash three of the statements tendered against the accused persons said Rabe, who is now a Special Adviser to the Katsina State Governor, had interjected at the November 16, 2016 meeting that if EFCC didn’t have enough evidence, he had evidence and that he had posted some on the internet for the anti-graft agency to use against the accused persons.

The former LG chair alleged there was a concerted effort by the EFCC and the State Government to coerce and intimidate him to give evidence against the former State Governor which he resisted for which he was put in an underground cell at an EFCC facility between January 25 and February 16, 2016.

“After I was released, the EFCC operative apologised to me but I don’t think it has left my mind since that day”, he said.

However, the lead counsel, U.J. Uket, who was accused of cutting a deal with the State Government, accused the prosecution witness of discrediting the report he volunteered, adding that Dankaba was cautioned before being asked to volunteer his statements.

“There was no threat or intimidation, whatsoever. I suggest to you that you were present when the defendant was writing his statement”, he said.

The former chairman of Kaita local government pointed to Mr U.T. Uket who was leading prosecution against him, the former governor and two others for alleged diversion of N11billion fraud of public funds as the man who told the State Attorney in the presence of others that the commission lacked sufficient evidence to get a conviction against the former governor for the alleged financial crimes levelled against him.

To buttress the allegation of intimidation the ex-ALGON boss said his lawyer was equally forced out of the EFCC facility because they said “it is against their tradition for lawyers to be present when making such statements. It happened on January 25th and October 31st when I went to EFCC with my lawyer, Barrister Aliyu Ahmed Yola”

Under cross-examination, he said the treasurer of ALGON, who served as the chairman of the body before him, Hussein Dambo, “might have been left out of prosecution” because as a co-signatory to him he ought to have been charged with him but “he probably co-operated”.

Dabo was chairman of ALGON between 2012 and 2014 while Dankaba took over between November 2014 till the end of the administration in May 2015.

Dankaba had objected to the acceptance of three separate statements credited to him by the EFCC as being obtained under duress.

“I didn’t volunteer these statements”, he said repeatedly, adding that they were dictated to him by EFCC operatives who insisted that he must write it as they wanted.

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