A Federal High Court in Kano on Thursday rejected the request of a former governor of Kano, Ibrahim Shekarau, to adjourn his trial to Friday to enable him attend President Muhammadu Buhari’s presidential rally on Thursday (today).
The trial was earlier slated on Thursday and Friday.
Mr Shekarau is standing trial for allegedly recieving illegal campaign funds of about N950 million in 2015.
At the commencement of the trial on Thursday, counsel to Mr Shekarau, Jibrin Okutepa, pleaded with the court to adjourn the matter to Friday to enable his client attend Mr Buhari’s reelection rally in Kano.
“My Lord, Mr President is coming to Kano today. My client is a politician and wants to attend the rally,” he said.
However, the judge, Lewis Allagoa, rejected Mr Shekarau’s request and ordered the commencement of the trial.
Turned down again
Later, Mr Okutepa moved another application seeking adjournment, saying Mr Shekarau, being a senatorial candidate of the All Progressive Congress (APC) ought to be at the event.
“In view of the predicament of my client who is billed to be among the entourage of Mr President campaign rally, I want apply to My Lord to adjourn the matter to tomorrow (Friday),” he pleaded.
The judge rejected the request again.
When the matter was called up on Thursday, counsel to the EFCC, Samuel Chiwe, presented a staffer of the anti-graft outfit, Mahmud Tukur, as his first witness.
Mr Tukur told the court the EFCC received intelligence report that N23 billion was deposited by the former Minister of Petroleum (Allison Diezani) at the Fidelity Bank in Lagos, out of which N950 million was directed to be given to Kano PDP.
He added that the money was received by a former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Aminu Wali and Mansur Ahmad on March 26, 2015, two days to the presidential election.
“I visited Fidelity Bank Kano on April 27th, 2016 where I interviewed the business manager, Aliyu Da’u Aliyu and operations manager, Saheed. In the course of the interview, they confirmed that on night of March 26th, 2015 they gave 2nd and 3rd defendants (Aminu Wali and Mansur Ahmad) the sum of N950 million. They provided us with the receipt of payment alongside the identification document of the 2nd and 3rd defendants.
“We invited them, interviewed them and obtained their statements. The 1st defendant (Mr Shekarau) wrote a statement on May 12th, 13th and 14th, 2016, the 2nd defendant (Mr Wali) wrote a statement on May 5th, 2016 and the 3rd defendant (Mr Ahmed) wrote a statement on May 13th, 2019,” Mr Tukur said.
The court admitted three exhibits against the accused persons.
They were statements obtained at EFCC, receipts of bank payment and a letter from the bank.
The proceeding, which lasted for two hours was interrupted by two recesses called by trial judge.
The judge then adjourned the case to Friday February 1.
Mr Shekarau was a former Minister of Education under former President Goodluck Jonathan prior to 2015 general elections.
He is now contesting for Kano central senatorial seat under the ruling APC.