Alleged $1.3m fraud: Absence of counsel stalls arraignment of business mogul
By Muhammad Muhammad
All Progressives Congress (APC), Kano central senatorial candidate Alh. Abdulsalam Abdulkarim Zaura on Monday appeared before a Federal high court sitting in Kano to defend the alleged financial misappropriation charged against him.
SOLACEBASE reports that Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has reopened prosecuting of alleged US$1.3 million fraud filed against the international business mogul and politician following the judgement of court of appeal.
However, the matter slated for arraignment on Monday could not proceed following the absence of the defendant counsel, Ibrahim Garba Waru.
Upon the call of the case file, counsel to EFCC, Aisha Habib drew the attention of the trial Judge, Justice Mohammad Nasir Yunusa, of the conspicuous absence of the defendant lawyer.
Although, the prosecuting lawyer told the court that she received a letter from the defense counsel notifying of a pre-election trial he (defense) was attending to at the supreme court, the EFCC counsel pleaded with the court to proceed with arraignment.
The EFCC lawyer cited provisions of section 33 sub (A) of the constitution of the Federal republic of Nigeria 1999 as amended, arguing that the law as specified allowed the defendant to take plea in the absence of the counsel.
She (prosecuting lawyer) also reminded the court that the criminal proceeding has suffered several adjournment because of similar cases of excuses, thereby urging for speedy process of the matter.
In his ruling, Justice Yunusa posited that the position of the law in section 36 (2) A and B of 1999 constitution as amended is clear that a defendant must be given adequate time and facilitate to defend himself.
Justice Yunusa also conceded to the argument of the prosecution on several adjournment of the matter and why the criminal suit must be accorded priority. The court however affirmed that all parties must be given fair hearing thereby adjourned the matter further to 6th, February, 2023.
Although, the trial scheduled for arraignment was stalled on two occasions, first during the absence of the trial Judge, and on the occasion of the defendant failing health the matter was however rescheduled for arraignment.