A Federal High Court sitting in Kano Monday rejected an application filed by the Economic and Financial Crime Commission, EFCC, seeking to transfer the case of alleged money laundering filed against former Governor Ibrahim Shekarau to the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.
Justice Luis Allagoa dismissed the motion, after hearing an argument for and against the transfer of the case to Abuja due to insecurity.
Allagoa, adjourned hearing in the case to December 3 and December 4 for trial to begin.
The EFCC charged Shekarau alongside former Foreign Affairs Minister, Aminu Wali, and one Mansur Ahmad on six counts bordering on conspiracy and money laundering to the tune of N950 million.
Earlier in the application, counsel to EFCC, Johnson Ojogbane, argued that the rationale behind the application to move the case to Abuja was due to “breakdown of law and order, resulting to a face-off between the supporters of Shekarau and security personnel at the court premises on the first arraignment day.”
He said EFCC operatives narrowly escaped being lynched by the rampaging supporters who besieged the court, causing a stampede before they were overpowered by policemen deployed to the area.
He further told the court that the lives of his witnesses as well as himself were in danger.
“Considering the traumatic experience we went through during the first arraignment day, and the series of threat we have received so far, the prosecution is very apprehensive.
“The three witnesses are also afraid to testify as they are being threatened by unknown persons. Now, only one of them agreed that his name should be used on the affidavit submitted before the court,” Ojogbane said.
In his objection, defence counsel, Sam Ologunorisa, countered the motion, alleging that the application “was a ploy by the EFCC to stall the trial as it appeared they were not ready to continue the case.”
He said the motion was hurriedly filed before the court on October 13, while he received a copy on a Friday.
Ologunorisa explained that in a criminal case, it was not right, fair and proper for the prosecution to dictate, chose a venue or judge to preside over a case.
According to him, this contravened the provisions of Sections 222(1) and 45 of the Federal High Court, as well as section 93(1) of the Administration of Criminal Justice.
He said the affidavit filed was self-contradictory as the first three witnesses on record were all EFCC’s operatives.
He argued that the current motion had the name of one Aliyu Da’u Aliyu as a witness who he said, was never a witness in the case.