By Shuaib Sadiq
Kaduna – The Court of Appeal sitting in Kaduna on Thursday reserved ruling in the appeal filed by former Katsina State governor, Ibrahim Shema against his alleged corruption trial.
The Appeal Court, presided by Justice A.G Mshelia, adjourned indefinitely after taking submissions from counsel to both the appellant and the defendants.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that, Shema had approached the Court on May 25, 2017, with interlocutory application, challenging his alleged corruption trial by a Katsina State High Court.
The Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) had arraigned Shema and three others before Justice Maikaita Bako of the State High Court over alleged N11 billion fraud during his eight-year tenure as governor.
It would be recalled that the High Court had on March 29, 2017 refused Shema’s motion asking it to quash his trial by the EFCC, citing issues of jurisdiction and right to fair hearing.
Shema later approached the Appeal Court and secured a stay of action pending the determination of his motion before the Court.
However, on May 26, 2017, counsel to the Appellant, J.B. Daudu, again submitted an oral application seeking clearance from the Supreme Court, on a constitutional breach on the number of Justices assigned to hear the appeal.
Daudu argued that no fewer than five Justices were allowed to hear such motion in accordance with the Constitution.
He therefore sought for an adjournment to allow the Appeal Court seek clearance on the motion.
The defence counsel, Lateef Fagbemi, had dismissed the motion as baseless, and urged the court for shorter adjournment, so as to accelerate the hearing of the substantive suit pending before the Katsina High Court.
Justice Ibrahim Shatta, who presided over the sitting, had adjourned hearing of the appeal to Nov. 9.
However, Justice Mshelia, supported by four other Justices, resumed hearing in the case on Thursday, June 15.
At the resumed hearing, Daudu urged the court to rule in his client’s favour and dismiss the case before the trial court.
Daudu, who led 18 other counsel, said his client was not allowed access to “state facilities” to accelerate fair hearing in the case by the lower court.
He argued that the Shema’s trial in the lower court was vindictive and oppressive and capable of trampling on his fundamental human right.
Daudu, therefore, prayed the Appeal Court to dismiss the case pending at the Katsina High Court.
In his submission, Mr S. T Olugunurisa, lead counsel to the Federal Government and defendant in the appeal, urged the court to dismiss the appeal and allow the case to proceed at the lower court.
Olugunurisa argued that Shema’s appeal was only brought to delay his trial, as nothing in the case was vindictive or oppressive.
He said the accused was not entitled to “the luxury” he was seeking from the Appeal Court.
Mshelia, who led four other Justices, however, adjourned indefinitely for ruling on the Appeal.
She said that the court would communicate the date set for ruling on the appeal to all the parties.