By Habibu Harisu
Sokoto – A Federal High Court sitting in Sokoto on Tuesday remanded former minister of water resources, Muntari Shagari in police custody over alleged N500 million illegal dealings with former Petroleum Minister Diezani Madueke.
Also remanded are Ibrahim Gidado, a former Information commissioner, Sokoto State Chairman and Treasurer of PDP, Ibrahim Milgoma and Nasiru Dhalhatu, as wells as the PDP the state governorship candidate in 2015, Abdallah Wali,
The six men are standing trial on a five-count charge bordering on alleged money laundering brought against them by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The lead EFCC Counsel, Mr Johnson Ogogbane, told the court that the offences bordered on money laundering and cash transaction outside regulated financial institution.
He said that the action contravened the Money Laundering Prohibition Act 2011, punishable under section 16 (2) (b) of the act.
According to the charge sheet, the offences were committed in March 2015 and that the N500 million was handed over to the accused by one Abdulrahman Ibrahim.
Ogogbane added that the charges were attached with affidavits, list of witnesses; summary list of evidences as well as proof of evidence.
However, when the charges were separately read to each of the accused persons, they all pleaded not guilty.
Ogogbane thereafter applied for adjournment to commence full trial.
Mr Ibrahim Abdullahi, counsel to Gidado, Dhalhatu and Milgoma, applied for interim bail of the accused persons pending formal bail application by the defendants.
Abdullhai argued that defendants were on EFCC administrative bail since 2016 without jumping bail.
He noted that based on the facts filed by the prosecution, investigations have been concluded into the case, as such the defendants would not likely jeopardize any investigation.
Also, Ibrahim Idris and Aiyelabegan Abdulkadiri, counsel to Shagari and Wali, respectively, aligned with Abdullahi’s submission, and added that the court should allow the administrative bail to continue.
However, the EFCC counsel opposed the application on the ground that administrative bail terminated when the accused persons were served with charge sheets and urged the court to follow due processes in respect of High Court procedures.
After series of argument among the lawyers on compliance with Administrative Criminal Justice Act, the trial Judge, Justice Saleh Idrissa, adjourned the case to May 24, for hearing of the bail applications.
The judge ordered the six accused persons to be remanded in police custody.