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Abscence of Judge stalls Dep. Speaker's trial

11 February 2013, 16:00

Kaduna - The absence of Justice Marcellous Awokenlehin of Federal High Court, Kaduna, on Monday stalled hearing of the case of alleged fraud against the Deputy Speaker, Kaduna State House of Assembly, Dr Mato Dogara.

Dogara and six others were charged before the court by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Monday Jan. 14, for alleged conspiracy and fraud amounting to N30 million.

The other accused persons in the case are Kabiru Tahir, former Interim Committee Chairman of Lere local council; Ahmed Yahya, its former Director of Finance and Billy Graham, a former Director of Works.

Others are Yushau Aboki, an ex-Director of Personnel; Hannatu Iliya, the Head of Health, and Eric Alhassan, a former acting Chairman of the council.

Awokenlehin had on Jan. 28 granted bail to the accused persons in the sum of N1.5 million each.

The court ordered the deputy speaker to present two sureties on the level of Director in the Federal Civil Service, while the six others were directed to present two Assistant Directors in the state civil service as sureties.

The judge directed that each of the sureties must own a certified landed property in Kaduna.

Justice Awokenlehin adjourned the case to Feb. 10 and 11 for continuation of hearing.

At the resumed hearing of the case on Monday, the parties were told that the judge had travelled and the case was adjourned to Feb. 21 for hearing.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that the EFCC had through its counsel, Sa'ad Hannafi, filed a six-count charge of conspiracy and fraud against them.

The commission said the offence was contrary to Section 1(2)(c) of the Miscellaneous Offences Act 2004.

Hannafi told the court that the offence was committed between March 2011 and February 2012, when the seven conspired to defraud the council of N30 million.

``You obtained money by false pretence and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 8(a) of the Advance Free Fraud and Other Related Offences Act 2006, and punishable under Section 1(3) of the same Act'', he said.

The EFCC had also told the court that Tahir, the deputy speaker and three others had conspired ``with the intent to defraud the state”.

According to the counsel, they obtained the sum of N17 million via fraudulent award of contract for the renovation of Government Lodge Saminaka.

He alleged that the suspects obtained N8 million via Voucher No: 4165 for the supply of hospital equipment, which they knew was false.

Hannafi told the court that the accused persons also forged a receipt, titled Austino Pharmaceutical Ltd, dated May 15, 2011, to effect the payment of N8.01 million for goods that were never supplied.

The deputy speaker was also accused of receiving N5.37 million as 10 per cent kick back from one Alhaji Umaru Dangi.

He explained that the transaction was conducted between June 2011 and May 2012 through a fraudulent contract for the resurfacing and redressing of Malali road.

NAN

Tags efcc kaduna
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