Ganduje absent as Kano court adjourns bribery trial

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The scheduled arraignment of the immediate-past Governor of Kano State, Abdullahi Ganduje, on bribery charges, was stalled on Wednesday over the failure of the prosecution to serve the charges on him.

The Kano State Government filed eight counts of bribery, involving $413,000 and N1.38bn, against Ganduje,  his wife, Hafsat, and son, Umar.

Also listed as defendants are Jibrilla Muhammad, Lamash Properties Ltd,  Safari Textiles Ltd and Lesage General Enterprises.

Justice Usman Na’Abba of the Kano State High Court had in a summons issued last week fixed the trial for Wednesday, April 17.

However, when the matter came up before Justice Na’Abba on Wednesday, only the 6th respondent, through its counsel, Nureini Jimoh (SAN), was present in court.

Ganduje and the other defendants were absent.

Counsel for the Kano State Government, Ya’u Adamu, told the court that the prosecution had difficulty serving the charges on the defendants.

Adamu, however, attempted to move an ex parte application seeking to serve the defendants by substituted means.

But the prayer was opposed by Jimoh, who argued that there was no legal provision for service on criminal charges by ex parte motion, vowing to challenge such a move at the Court of Appeal if granted.

Justice Na’Abba, however, adjourned the matter till April 29.

In the charges, the Kano State government alleged that “you, Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, sometime between the period of January 10, 2016,  or thereabouts, at Kano in the Kano Judicial Division, while serving as the Governor of Kano State and being a public servant in the government of Kano State corruptly asked for and received the sum of $200,000  being benefit for yourself from one of the beneficiaries of contracts awarded by the Kano State Government on your instruction and approval as part of your function as the Governor of Kano State, thereby committed the offence of official corruption, contrary to and punishable under Section 22 of the Kano State Public Complaints and Anti-corruption Commission Law 2008 (as amended), Law No 2 of 2009, Laws of Kano State of Nigeria.”

In the second count, the state government said, Ganduje, on February 10, 2017 “dishonestly and/or corruptly to your own advantage collected a kick-back of the sum of $ 213,000  being money generated from people and entities seeking or holding the execution of Kano State Government contact and or project for the remodeling of Kantin Kwari textile market as a bribe through one of the contractors (agent).”

In another count, state alleged that Ganduje, between September 2020 and March 2021, “together with one Hafsat Umar (your spouse) and Abubakar Bawuro, a businessman, Safari Textile Ltd, a limited liability company, wholly owned and maintained by the 3rd defendant, agreed to do an illegal act to wit: dishonestly converted to your own use the sum of N1,376,000,000 through account No. 7085982019 belonging to the 3rd defendant being money earmarked and approved for the purchase and supply of face masks and other hospital equipment for the health sector, thereby causing wrongful loss to the people and the government of Kano State and thereby jointly committed the offence of criminal conspiracy contrary to Section 96 and punishable under section 97 of The penal code (as amended) CAP,105, Vol.2. The Laws of Kano State of Nigeria, 1991.”

The Kano State’s Attorney General, Muhuyi  Magaji, said he was empowered by Section 211 of the 1999 Constitution and Sections 121(1), 126(b) and 377 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Law, 2019, “to apply to prefer the charge attached herewith against the defendants.”

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