The Court of Appeal, Kano division, Wednesday set aside the judgment of a Federal High Court that discharged and acquitted a former Kano gubernatorial candidate, Abdulsalam Abdulkarim, popularly known as AA Zaura.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) charged Mr Abdulkarim to court for allegedly defrauding a Kuwaiti national. He was charged with a five-count charge at the Federal High Court in Kano.
The commission accused him of defrauding a Kuwaiti national of $1.3 million under the pretext of procuring real estate for him in Dubai, Kuwait.
On June 9, 2020, Justice Lewis Allagoa of the Federal High Court in Kano found the defendant not guilty and discharged him on all counts.
Dissatisfied with the judgment of the lower court, the EFCC appealed to the Court of Appeal. A unanimous decision by the three-member panel of judges read by Abdullahi Bayero, set aside the judgment of the high court.
Mr Bayero then ordered the defendant to be tried afresh by a different judge.
The main contention of the appeal was the absence of the accused person when the judgment of the High Court was delivered. Citing several judgements of the Supreme Court, it was held that an accused person must always be present in court throughout his trial including judgment.
It was in that regard that the court of appeal found merit in the appeal and upheld the same accordingly.
“Having determined the issue in favour of the appellant, the appeal naturally succeeds. The judgment of the lower court in suit number FHCK/CR2018/ FRN against Abdulsalam Sale Abdulkarim delivered on June 9th, 2020 is hereby set aside.”
History of trial
The Federal High Court in 2020 discharged and acquitted Mr Abdulkarim who was the gubernatorial candidate of the Green Party of Nigeria (GPN) in the 2019 election in Kano State.
Justice Lewis-Allagoa ruled against the anti-graft agency. He held that the prosecution failed to prove its case beyond reasonable doubts.
The EFCC had arraigned Mr Abdulkarim alongside one Michael Edosa for allegedly defrauding Jamman Al-Azmi of monies amounting to $1.32 million with intent to conduct a joint venture business together.
The judge said the failure of the EFCC to call the nominal complainant, Mr Al-Azmi, to appear before the court to give evidence over what transpired between him and the first defendant rendered all the testimonies by the prosecution witnesses (2) null, Vanguard Newspaper reported.
The judge maintained that the prosecution was based on speculation as the EFCC could not provide ingredients to link or establish criminal evidence against the defendant.
Defection to APC
Mr Abdulkarim, in April 2021, defected to the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC). He was received by Abdullahi Ganduje, the governor of the state.
Mr Abdulkarim said his defection followed consultations with Mr Ganduje, facilitated by the governor’s Special Adviser on Solid Minerals, Balaraba Ahmed, and other APC chieftains in the state.
Mr Ganduje commended the politician for his various contributions to the growth and development of his community and the state as a whole. He said Mr Abdulkarim coming into the party would lend credence to the belief that the APC is youth-friendly.
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