N500m fraud: Shari’ah Court Judges, others sent to prison in Kano
Some judges and registrars of the Kano State Sharia Court Division, with14 others, and a cashier, have been arraigned before a magistrates’ court in the state for allegedly diverting the sum of N500 million meant for orphans.
When the case came up before Chief Magistrate Mustapha Sa’ad Datti on Wednesday, the defendants were accused of committing an offence bordering on criminal conspiracy, joint act, and criminal breach of trust by public servants, theft, and forgery, contrary to sections 97, 79, 315 and 289 of Penal Code Law.
According to the first information report (FIR), “the defendants, Bashir Ali Kurawa, Saadatu Umar, Tijjani Abdullahi, Maryam Jibrin Garba, Shamsu Sani and Hussaina Imam had committed the offence some time in 2020/2021 when Imam reportedly used her official position as the cashier at the Kano State Sharia Court of Appeal and conspired with the aforementioned persons”.
The report revealed that “Imam allegedly forged the letterheads of Sharia Court of Appeal, signatures of the two signatories to the Stanbic IBTC Bank account 0020667440 belonging to Kano State Sharia Court of Appeal and stole money to the tune of N484,067,327:07 by fraudulently authorizing the bank to transfer the said amount to various bank accounts without the knowledge and or consent of the authorized body or person.”
In a separate charge, the defendants were arraigned for the alleged offences of criminal conspiracy, joint act, criminal breach of trust by a public servant and theft by a clerk or servant contrary to section 97, 79, 315 and 289 of Penal Code, on August 29, 2021.
The FIRS reads, “An official complaint was received by the Commission from Kano State Ministry of Justice that sometime ago, in the year 2018 to 2021, you Sani Ali Muhammad, Sani Buba Aliyu, Bashir Baffa, Garzali Wada, Hadi Tijjani Mu’azu, Alkasim Abdullahi, Yusuf Abdullahi, Mustapha Bala Ibrahim, Jafar Ahmad, Adamu Balarabe, Aminu Abdulkadir, Abdullahi Suleiman Zango, Garba Yusuf, Bashir Ali Kurawa and you Hussaina Imam, criminally conspired, breached the trust in you as a public servant, acted jointly and create 15 fake civil servants’ death benefit files and fraudulently siphoned funds to the tune of N96,250,000.00 that was remitted by the Kano State Pension Fund Trustee to the bank accounts of Kano State Sharia Court Appeal and stole the said amount through eight Sharia Courts under the Kano State Sharia Court Appeal without the consent and knowledge of the authorizing authority”.
However, all the defendants pleaded not guilty to the charges and the counsel representing them applied for the court to admit the defendants on bail.
In their separate submissions, Barristers Garzali Datti Ahmad, Sani Yakubu Ibrahim, Mubarak Mai Wada, Bashir Ahmad, and Mustapha Hussein, urged the court to exercise its jurisdiction judicially and judiciously.
They argued that the application was brought pursuant to sections 35 and 36 of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, (1999 as amended) and sections 168 and 172 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Law 2019 of Kano.
In his response to the bail applications by the defense counsel, the prosecuting counsel, Zaharaddeen Kofar Mata, urged the court to consider the huge amount involved in the case while granting the bail.
Thereafter, the trial magistrate, Mustapha Sa’ad Datti, adjourned the case to February 1, 2023, for hearing and ordered the remand of all the defendants in a correctional centre.
Speaking to journalists after the proceeding, the Acting chairman of the Kano State Public Complaints and Anti-Corruption Commission, Barrister Mahmoud Balarabe, revealed that during its investigations on the matter, the commission had recovered vehicles, jewelry, landed properties and other valuable property, including N8 million from the defendants, adding that they would be used as exhibits.