Court remands judges, others for alleged N500million theft
A Kano Chief Magistrate Court, Gyadi- Gyadi division on Wednesday ordered the remand of three Sharia Court Judges, and 12 other judicial workers at the Correctional Centre over alleged theft of about N500 million.
The 15 accused persons are standing trial before Chief Magistrate Mustapha Sa’ad Datti on four-count charge include criminal conspiracy, joint Act, criminal breach of trust by public service, and theft. The offenses are contrary to sections 97, 79, 315, and 289 of the Kano state penal code law and are punishable under the law.
The accused judicial staff of Kano state Shari’a Court of Appeal, including court registrars, cashiers and other workers along with some external collaborators are being prosecuted by the state Public Complaints and Anti Corruption Commission.
Arraigning the accused before the court yesterday, prosecuting counsel, Zaharaddeen Hamisu Kofar Mata told the court that the judicial workers forged letterhead papers of Kano Sharia Court and signatures of the two signatories to court’s Stanbic IBTC bank to fraudulently withdrew N484,067,327:07.
The Anti-corruption lawyer also told the court how the accused perpetrated another financial fraud to criminally facilitated the withdrawal of N96,250,000.00 from Kano State Pension Fund Trustee to the Account of Shari’a Court and subsequently siphoned same amount into different private accounts.
According to Kofa- Mata, the judicial workers under probe created 15 fake civil servants’ death benefit files and fraudulently convinced and claimed the cash benefits from the pension board.
In the First Information Report (FIR), read before the court, the prosecuting counsel read, ” On 20th August, 2021 an official complaint was received at the Commission from Kano State ministry of justice, that sometimes ago in the year 2020/2021, Bashir Ali Kurawa “M”, Saadatu Umar “f”, Tijjani Abdullahi “m”, Maryam Jibrin Garba “f”, Shamsu Sani “m” and you Hussaina Iman “f” all committed an offence of criminal conspiracy in which Hussaina Imam who used his official position as cashier in the Kano State Sharia Court of Appeal, conspired with the aforementioned persons and one Suleiman “m” (now at large) and forged the letter head papers/sheets of Sharia Court of Appeal, forged the signatures of the two signatories to the Stanbic IBTC bank account 0020667440 belonging to Kano State Sharia Court of Appeal and stole money to the tune of N484,067,327:07, by fraudulently authorizing the bank to transfer the said amount to various bank accounts without the knowledge and/or consent of the authorized body/persons.
” The act allegedly perpetrated are contrary to criminal conspiracy, joint act, criminal breach of trust by a public servant and theft, contrary to section 97, 79, 315 and 289 of Penal Code. That on 29th August, 2021, an official complaint was received by the Commission from Kano State Ministry of Justice, that sometimes ago in the year 2018 to 2021 Sani Ali Muhammad “m”, Sani Buba Aliyu “m”, Bashir Baffa “m”, Garzali Wada “m”, Hadi Tijjani Mu’azu “m”, Alkasim Abdullahi “m”, Yusuf Abdullahi “m”, Mustapha Bala Ibrahim “m”, Jafar Ahmad “m”, Adamu Balarabe “m”, Aminu Abdulkadir “m”, Abdullahi Suleiman Zango “m”, Garba Yusuf “m”, Bashir Ali Kurawa “m” and you Hussaina Imam “f” criminally conspired, breached the trust in you as a public servant, acted jointly and create 15 fake civil servants’ death benefit files and fraudulently siphoned funds to the tune of ninety six million, two hundred and fifty thousand Naira (N96,250,000.00) that was remitted by the Kano State Pension Fund Trustee to the bank accounts of Kano State Sharia Court Appeal and stole the said amount through eight Sharia Courts under the Kano State Sharia Court Appeal without the consent and knowledge of the authorizing authority.”, Kofar Mata read the FIR.
All the defendants pleaded not guilty to the charges, and the defendant lawyers, including Barrister Garzali Datti Ahmad, Sani Yakubu Ibrahim, Mubarak Mai Wada, Bashir Ahmad and Mustapha Hussein applied for the bail of the accused persons.
The defence lawyers in their separate submissions argued that the application was brought pursuant to sections 35 and 36 of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 as amended and sections 168 and 172 of Administration of Criminal Justice Law 2019 of Kano.
In a counterargument, the prosecuting lawyer, Kofar Mata cautioned the court to consider the huge amount involved in the alleged crime in granting the bail. He urged the to order the defendants to deposit some amount of money and or, valuable property before granting the prayers.
The trial Magistrate Mustapha Datti adjourned the case to 1st February 2023 for hearing and ordered the remand of all the defendants in the correctional centre.