Why corruption trials of 16 ex-governors linger in Nigerian courts since 2007

Orji Uzor-Kalu
Orji Uzor-Kalu

The trial of former Nigerian governors for offences bordering on corruption and money laundering may continue to linger in different high courts in the country as a result of unending appeals and other submissions by the defendants.

A copy of the compiled list of high profile corruption cases made available to PREMIUM TIMES by Lanre Suraju of the Civil Society Network Against Corruption, CSNAC, showed that some of the cases dating back to 2007 are yet to properly commence.

Some went on appeals up to the Supreme Court on matters of interlocutory submissions only to be referred back to the trial court for commencement of the trial proper.

The trial of former Jigawa State governor, Saminu Turaki, for alleged N36 billion fraud began shortly after his exit from office in 2007; but the case was stalled after he allegedly absconded. Even though he was later rearrested, the trial is yet to begin substantively.

Another case which began in 2007 is that involving Joshua Dariye of Plateau State. He faces a 23-count charge of criminal embezzlement. According to the report, the trial actually started only in January 2016 after a long-drawn interlocutory appeal which ended at the Supreme Court.

In the same vein, the corruption case against former Abia State governor, Orji Kalu, which began in 2007, is reported to be at the Supreme Court for the determination of an appeal by the defendant.

Chimaroke Nnamani, who was governor of Enugu State, has had his case stalled since 2007 following allegations that he was ill. The Federal High Court in Lagos recently issued a bench warrant for his arrest after his lawyers failed to give reasons why he failed to appear in court on December 3.

The case against a former governor of Oyo State, Rasheed Ladoja, filed in 2008 is at the Supreme Court on interlocutory appeal.

Other cases involving former governors include Jolly Nyame (Taraba) filed in 2007; Danjuma Goje (Gombe) filed in 2011; Timipreye Sylva (Bayelsa) 2015; Murtala Nyako (Adamawa) 2015; Sule Lamido (Jigawa) 2015; Adebayo Alao-Akala (Oyo) 2011; Gbenga Daniel (Ogun) 2011; Aliyu Akwe Doma (Nasarawa) 2011; Attahiru Bafawara (Sokoto) 2009; and Ikedi Ohakim (Imo) 2015.

However, the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission, ICPC, said on Tuesday it might revisit the case files of 20 former state governors it indicted for corruption in 2008.

The Acting Chairman of the commission, Abdullahi Bako, who dropped the hint in Abuja, noted that case files were shelved due to a combination of legal and financial impediments.

In his reaction, the spokesperson for the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Wilson Ewujarem, while responding to the development, said the cases are ongoing and at different stages of trials.

“There are no obstacles that the EFCC would need to remove,” he said.

“It is not about what EFCC can do to remove the obstacles.

“Even recently you will see that some of them have been going on in the courts.”

Some other high profile cases still ongoing include a bribery scandal of a former senate president, Adolphus Wabara, and others filed in 2010; ex-Rep Faruk Lawal’s $620,000 bribe scandal filed in 2013; and Sunday Ehindero, a former police chief indicted of fraud, filed in 2012.

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