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Home Politics EDITORIAL: Masari’s Commission of Enquiry Investigating Shema And Matters Arising
EDITORIAL: Masari’s Commission of Enquiry Investigating Shema And Matters Arising

EDITORIAL: Masari’s Commission of Enquiry Investigating Shema And Matters Arising


There is what could mildly be described asfeeling of anxiety across political divides inKatsina state as the state’s Commission ofInquiry commences full sitting.Indeed, the feeling of anxiety is further heightened by the recent order of the commission that directed for substituted service to be issued to former governor Ibrahim Shehu Shema as a respondent on Memo number 8, written by the state government, on the activities of the now rested Subsidy Re-investment and Empowerment Programme (SURE-P).The Commission had, in response to an application moved by its counsel, Hassan Liman, SAN, directed that former governor Shema and indeed his then finance commissioner, Lawal Jari, be served noticeof the memo through Substituted Service and ordered that the notice be published intwo national dailies.Part of the commission’s order was a directive that the notice be pasted at the gates of former governor Shema’s residence in both Katsina and Dutsinma towns for Shema and, at the Kano residence of Lawal Jari.Although no date has yet been fixed for commencement of “hearing” into the memo on SURE-P, the news of the Commission’s order has continued to elicitresponse among the citizens.To effectively under the anxiety that has continued to greet activities of the commission of Inquiry, it is imperative to take a peep into its emergence.It would be recalled that Governor Masari, in exercise of the powers conferred on him, constituted a high powered commission of inquiry to investigate the alleged missing seventy billion naira during the reign of immediate past governor, Ibrahim Shehu Shema.The commission was saddled with the responsibility to “investigate and determine the actual extent of loss suffered by government through the acts or commission of public officers in the state from 2012 to May 2015”.The commission of inquiry is being chaired by Hon Justice Muhammad Ibrahim Siraj, a High Court Judge with the Plateau state Judiciary.Other members included Bashir Abubakar Yusuf, Hajia Indo Mohammed, Alhaji Isa Katsina and Abdulsamad Zangon Daura with Usman Musa as Secretary.As should be expected, Governor Masari, while inaugurating the Commission, taskedit to be guided by fairness and justice to alland importantly, be guided by the oath it swore to.Masari said his administration has discovered a whooping N70 billion taken from the state treasury with no evidence ofits utility by the immediate past administration.“The monies were taken cash and were nottraced so we are asking the where about” Masari said adding that “90% of the moneywere taken cash” he ethusedMasari said his administration was not investigating ex-Governor Shema based oncontracts awarded “but based on monies taken from the treasury that were not used”, insisting that there was no plan to ridicule or witch-hunt anyone.He urged the Commission members to ensure justice and fairness and expressed optimism that having built reputation for themselves, the commissioners won’t indulge in acts that could compromise their names.The commission which was inaugurated on 21/03/16, held its inaugural sitting on 12/04/16, almost twenty two days after inauguration.This was followed by the second sitting on31st May, where the commission considered some memo and importantly, gave a ruling on an application seeking to discontinue its sitting.At its second sitting which came a couple of weeks after the inaugural sitting, the commission dismissed an application filedby Counsels to some respondents, challenging the its legality and competence.Counsels to some of the respondents, led by Ahmed Abdulmajid, had filed an application opposing the continued sitting of the Commission.In the application, Abdulmajid sought five reliefs including that the Chairman of the Commission who is a High Court in Plateau state lacked territorial jurisdiction to preside over the Commission.The Counsel also alleged that chairman of the Commission, Justice Suraj and the Commission’s Counsel, Hassan Liman, arefriends and so are likely to be bias.Ruling on the application, Justice Suraj who addressed the reliefs one after the other said all the reliefs failed noting “the application is hereby dismissed”.But as earlier mentioned, the Commission’s directive that former governor Ibrahim Shehu Shema and his finance commissioner, Lawal Jari, be issued substituted service elicited the huge response among residents of the state and some keen observers.Our correspondent reports that Shema andhis finance commissioner, Lawal Jari, alongside over thirty others, were named as respondent on the memo which accused them of allegedly mismanaging N10 billion SURE-P funds.While most of the respondents have reportedly been served, efforts to serve both ex-governor Shema and Lawal Jari allegedly proved fruitless hence the directive for substituted service to be published in two national dailies.Even as the anxiety rages among the residents, an unconfirmed source said ex- governor Shema allegedly reached out to the Commission through his counsel and pleaded against media publication of the notice.“He told the commission how and when to effectively reached him without necessarily using the media” our source who spoke on the condition of anonymity enthused.The allegations that Shema reached out to the Commission in a bid to wad off substituted service could not be independently verified but a competent source closed to the Commission told our correspondent that issue of service through media publication would no longerhold.Regardless of how it turned out, the inauguration of the Commission has further underscored Governor Masari’s resolve to recover alleged missing money.The governor has, on several fora, hinted that about seventy billion naira Katsina state money was mismanaged or outrightly stolen under the watchful eyes of the last administration.“The money belongs to the people of Katsina and we will do everything legally possible to ensure we recovered every single kobo that was either stolen or mismanaged” Masari had said in one of his public outings.Indeed, the desire to recover these missingmonies informed the constitution of the commission of inquiry.As should be expected, all eyes are on the commission, which is saddled with an investigative function, to be thorough in its investigation and ensure that justice is not just done but seen to have been done.

(culled from leadership)


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