A State High Court sitting in Sokoto has dismissed an application by a former governor of the state, Mr Attahiru Bafarawa.
Justice Bello Abbas dismissed Mr Bafarawa’s application on Wednesday.
The former governor had, through his application, sought to quash the N15 billion fraud charge brought against him and six others by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The EFCC is prosecuting the former governor and his co-accused on 34 amended charges bordering on cheating, criminal breach of trust and diversion of public funds to the tune of over N15billion.
Bafarawa is standing trial alongside Beedash Nigeria Limited, 2nd defendant; with Bashir Mamman Nasarawa and his company Multi Trade Global Concept Limited as the 3rd and 4th defendants respectively.
Nasdabap Nigeria Limited, Alhaji Nasiru Dalhatu Bafarawa and Alhaji Salihu Maibuhu Gummi, are also joined in the suit as 5th, 6th and 7th defendants respectively.
The anti-graft agency argued that allegedly Bafarawa misappropriated the fund while serving as the governor of the state between 1999 and 2007.
Upon arraignment in December 2009, Bafarawa and his co-accused pleaded not guilty to the 47 counts preferred against them.
Soon after the arraignment, the accused persons filed a motion asking the court to strike out the charge against them but their application was dismissed by both the trial court and Court of Appeal in the state.
In the course of the trial, the prosecution called nine witnesses and tendered over 100 exhibits to prove the case against the accused persons.
On December 4, 2017, the accused persons approached the court again with an application of a “no case submission” following which the matter was adjourned to Wednesday (January 31, 2018) for ruling after all arguments were taken.
The anti-graft agency explained that it amended the charges preferred against the accused, because the Sokoto State Governor, Mr Waziri Tambuwal, granted pardon to some of the accused persons.
In his ruling, Justice Abbas held that the prosecution had established a prima facie case to warrant explanations by the defendants as to whether they are culpable or not.
“The element required in a no-case submission is to establish a prima facie case and not elements for conviction. Having stated that position of the law, I wish to also observe that, given the nature of the entire case, and considering the documentary evidence before me, the accused persons definitely have some explanations to make and this can only be done if they entered their defence,” the judge held.
The judge, however, upheld the no-case submission entered on behalf of the 3rd and 4th accused persons (Bashir Mamman Nasarawa and his company Multi Trade Global Concept Limited), and subsequently discharged and acquitted them.
The case has been adjourned to March 15 and 16, 2018 for the accused persons to open their defence.