The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, has approached the Supreme Court to set aside the July 25, 2023 judgment of the Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal that discharged former governor of Jigawa State, Sule Lamido and his son, Mustapha Lamido of an alleged N1.35bn fraud.
The anti-graft agency recalled that the former governor, his two sons, Aminu and Mustapha, Aminu Wada Abubakar, and their companies, Bamaina Holdings Ltd and Speeds International Ltd are standing trial before Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu of the Federal High Court, Abuja on a 37-count amended charge of money laundering to the tune of N1.35 billion fraud.
They were charged after an investigation established that Lamido allegedly abused his position as governor between 2007 and 2015 and laundered several sums of money which he received as kickbacks from companies that were awarded contracts by the Jigawa State Government under his leadership.
The trial which commenced in 2015 has seen the Commission calling over 16 witnesses before closing its case. Rather than open their defence, the defendants opted for a no-case submission, arguing that the prosecution had not placed sufficient materials before the court to warrant their defence.
But Justice Ojukwu, threw out the no-case submission and upheld EFCC’s submission that Lamido and the other defendants had a case to answer and ordered them to open their defence. Dissatisfied, Lamido proceeded to the Appellate Court on appeal.
The appellate court had in a ruling on July 25, held that the no-case submission filed by the defendants was meritorious, struck out the charge, and discharged the former governor and his sons.
The appellant further avers that the “proper order to make pursuant to Section 15 and 23 of the Court of Appeal Act Cap. C36 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004 and Section 22 of the Federal High Court Act Cap. F12 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004 was to have transferred the case to the Kano Judicial Division of the Federal High Court instead of striking out the charge and discharging the appellants.”
The EFCC also assert that the appellate court’s overlook of the failure by the respondents to insert the names of other parties in their Notice of Appeal was grievous error, as Order 7 Rule 2(1) of the Court of Appeal Rules 2021 states that “all appeals shall be by way of rehearing and shall be brought by Notice of Appeal which shall set forth the grounds of appeal, the exact nature of the relief sought and the names and addresses of all parties affected by the appeal.
“The said unilateral and arbitrary exclusion of some of the parties in the Notice of Appeal by the respondents without the leave of the court is not a mere irregularity but a fundamental vice which rendered the Notice of Appeal incompetent and invalid”.
One of the charges against Sule Lamido and his co-defendants reads: “That you, Alhaji Sule Lamido (while being the Governor of Jigawa State, Nigeria), on or about March 2nd, 2012, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court in your account in the name Bamaina Holdings (also referred to as Bamaina Holding Limited) domiciled at Unity Bank Plc. Kano, converted the aggregate sum of N61,919,000.00 being the value of four Sterling Bank Plc Cheques nos. 04981304, 04981305, 04981307, 04981308, three Diamond Bank Plc Cheque nos. 32909551,32909548, 32909550 and four Bank PHB Plc Cheques nos. 24444376, 24444374, 24444375 and 24444372 paid by Dantata & Sawoe Construction Company Nigeria Limited which represented the proceeds of bribery and corruption to wit: using your position as a public officer for gratification by purportedly obtaining contracts for companies in which you have interest from Dantata & Sawoe Construction Company Nigeria Limited which was awarded contracts by Jigawa State Government with the aim of concealing their illicit origin and you thereby committed an offense contrary to Section 15(1) (a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 and punishable under section 15(1) of the same Act”
Another count reads: “That you, Alhaji Sule Lamido (while being the Governor of Jigawa State, Nigeria), Aminu Sule Lamido, Mustapha Sule Lamido, and Bamaina Company Nigeria Limited on or about 3rd of April 2012 within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court retained in the account of Bamaina Company Nigeria Limited domiciled with Skye Bank Plc Kano the sum of N57,000,000.00 transferred from the account of Bamaina Holdings (also known and referred to as Bamaina Holdings Limited) at Unity Bank Plc Kano which fund you knew represented the proceeds of illegal act of Alhaji Sule Lamido who used his position as a public officer for gratification by obtaining purported contracts for Speeds International Limited, Gada Construction Company, and Bamaina Company Nigeria Limited from Dantata and Sawoe Construction Company Nigeria Limited, a company which was awarded contracts by the Jigawa State Government and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 17(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 and punishable under Section 17 of the same Act”