The Court of Appeal in Gombe, Gombe State, has ordered the fresh trial of a former Minister of Science and Technology, Abdu Bulama, and four others, who were accused of money laundering involving N450million.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) accused the former minister and his co-defendants of receiving and sharing the money allegedly provided by Diezani Alison-Madueke, a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, “to influence the outcome of the 2015 presidential election.”
A judge of the Federal High Court in Damaturu, Yobe State, Isa Dashen, had earlier discharged and acquitted the defendants after upholding their no-case submission which they filed after the prosecution closed its case.
But a statement by the spokesperson for the EFCC, Wilson Uwujaren, stated on Wednesday that the appellate court upturned the decision of the trial court in a judgment delivered on March 3.
Ruling on the prosecution’s appeal against the trial court’s decision, the Court of Appeal ordered that the case be re-assigned to another judge of the Federal High Court for retrial.
EFCC had, on May 29, 2018, arraigned Mr Bulama and his co-defendants before Mr Dashen on seven counts of money laundering to the tune of N450 million.
His co-defendants are Mohammed Kadai, a former Commissioner for Integrated and Rural Development in Yobe State and Deputy Coordinator of Goodluck Jonathan Campaign Organisation, Abba Gana Tata, Muhammad Mamu and Hassan Ibn Jaks.
EFCC’s prosecuting counsel, Mukhtar Ahmed, had presented six witnesses and tendered documents that were admitted in evidence by the court.
At the close of the prosecution’s case, the defendants opted for a “no case submission” which the judge upheld by discharging and acquitting them.
Dissatisfied with the ruling, the EFCC filed an appeal, asking the appellate court to side aside the decision of the lower court.
A panel of the Court of Appeal in its judgment of March 3, 2021 upheld the argument of the EFCC that the lower court erred in discharging and acquitting the defendants.
The judgment read by Tunde Awoteye, held that “the charge No. FHC/DM/CR/25/2018 FRN VS DR ABDU BULAMA & 4 OTHERS is ordered to be remitted back to the lower court to be reassigned to another Federal High Court Judge other than Hon. Justice Isah H. Dashen to be heard de novo.”
EFCC also quoted the court as saying that ” there is inferential evidence against the respondents which should not be brushed aside.”
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