The Sokoto State High Court presided over by Justice Bello Abbas, Tuesday discharged and acquitted a former Governor of Sokoto State, Alhaji Attahiru Bafarawa, on the 144-count charge preferred against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on the grounds that the prosecution failed in proving that a prima facie case has been established.
The EFCC had filed a 147-count charge against Bafarawa in 2009, bordering on corruption, illegal sale of government shares, misappropriation, criminal breach of trust, receiving stolen properties and unauthorised payments allegedly committed between between 2003 and 2007 totalling N15 billion.
Abbas, who is also the Chief Judge of the state, said the anti-graft body in prosecuting the case, did not present reasonable evidence to support its charge.
He said the evidences presented before the court were not enough to convict the accused person and that the prosecuting council failed to prove the case beyond reasonable doubt.
He maintained that the evidences given by the three prosecuting officers were contradictory and lacked merit.
Abbas posited that most of the witnesses before the court gave unstable evidences which lacked credibility.
“If there is a failure to prove any case beyond reasonable doubt, it is a failure. The prosecutor has not shown the court that all ingredients of the count charges have been established before presenting them to the court.
“Hearsay evidence is not a party to the case and is not acceptable to the court. The prosecutor has a burden to prove the accused persons beyond reasonable doubt,” he said.
He posited that the prosecutor heavily relied on oral evidence without presenting concrete documents before the court.
The judge noted that the only evidence were those of the witnesses and written statements of the accused persons.
Abbas stressed that the evidences and records had not proved that the accused person was guilty as charged and therefore should be acquitted.
Reacting to the judgment, the prosecuting counsel, Mr Jacob Ochidi, applauded the court for following due process throughout the sittings.
“The issue here is that due process had been followed to the logical conclusion. We hereby adhere to the court pronouncement,” he stated.
Also commenting, Bafarawa described the verdict as an act of God, saying justice had been done.
The former governor said he was accused unjustly for diverting public funds, insisting that he left N12 billion in the state treasury at the expiration of his tenure.
He called on the EFCC to investigate how the N12 billion was spent by his successor and former governor, Senator Aliyu Wamakko.
“I left N12 billion in the state treasury before leaving office, iron rods and N500 million for Sultan Maccido Institute of Quranic Studies, Sokoto. Wamakko should account for the N12 billion that I left for him.
“I am determined to pursue this to the logical conclusion to ensure the recovery of such funds.
“So, the anti-graft body should investigate and find out how that money was spent,” he stressed.
The case against Bafarawa was through a petition sent to the EFCC, dated 18th April, 2008 and signed by the then Commissioner for Justice and Attorney-General, Inuwa Abdulkadir.