The scheduled arraignment of the Bauchi State Governor-elect, Bala Mohammed, before the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court was on Monday, stalled, due to the absence of the judge, Yusuf Halilu.
According to the court registrar, the judge, Mr Halilu, was absent due to an engagement at the election tribunal in Abeokuta, the capital of Ogun State.
Mr Mohammed, who was in court, was to be arraigned on Monday by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on fresh six counts charges. The charges are bordering on alleged failure to declare his assets and giving of false information.
He has since been seen at the ongoing Nigerian Governors Forum taking place at the Banquet hall, State House, Abuja.
Mr Mohammed, a former minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), was declared the winner of the recent Bauchi State governorship election on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). He defeated the incumbent governor of the state, Mohammed Abubakar, of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
This was revealed in the information sent by the court registrar to the EFCC Director of Legal Services and Prosecution, Chile Okoroma, on Sunday.
A source in the commission highlighted that Mr Mohammed, popularly known as Kaura, ‘will be arraigned on six counts bordering on false declaration of assets and giving false information to the EFCC.
“There are some properties he bought which he did not disclose to the EFCC that were discovered. The details will be unveiled when the charges will be read to him. A renowned legal practitioner and the EFCC counsel, Wahab Shittu, has been assigned to prosecute Bala Mohammed, before a new judge,” the source said.
Count five of the charges to be read to the accused reads, “That you, Bala A. Mohammed, on or about October 24, 2016 at the head office of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission in Abuja, within the judicial division of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, made a false statement to the detective, Ishaya Dauda, investigating officer with the Economic Governance Section of the EFCC, Abuja to wit:
“That you acquired house situate at No. 2599 and 2600, Cadastral Zone AO4 Asokoro District Abuja through a mortgage facility from Aso Savings & Loan Bank Plc and you thereby committed an offense contrary to Section 09 (2) (a) of the EFCC (Establishment) Act 2004 and punishable under Section 39(2)(b) of the same Act.”
The accused had in a recent interview with Saturday Punch in Bauchi, vowed that he would probe his predecessor, adding that his trial by the EFCC was politically-motivated.
He said, “It is completely politically-motivated but I believe in justice and that was why I went to the court of justice. Because of the evidence that we have, he is going to be thoroughly probed because I have not been spared by the federal government.
“I have been under probe by the EFCC and because I believe in accountability and was influential in the government of President Goodluck Jonathan, I chose not to run away.
“I will stand and answer all questions. I have passed the first battle by winning my case against the federal government on human rights, for arbitrarily imprisoning me and then calling me names. Of course, N5m has been awarded in my favour and the next one is the other spurious charges against me. I believe in justice and equity.”
Speaking with journalists, the prosecution counsel, Mr Shittu said, “EFCC is an anti-corruption agency, it does not play politics. It exists to serve the public.
“It is a matter that is been ongoing before another judge who has now been elevated.
“The expectation is that the matter will soon be reassigned to another judge.
“Just a week ago, the registry of this court sent us a notice that today has been fixed for the re-arraignment of the defendant. It was not at the instance of the court.
“You know when a case is transferred to another court, it starts de Novo.
“Nobody should see what is happening now as an attempt by the EFCC to intimidate anyone. Let us focus on the matter before the court. EFCC exists to serve everybody,” Mr Shittu said.
Lawan: NASS Will Approve Any Request from Buhari
The President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, on Thursday said any request from President Muhammadu Buhari would make Nigeria a better place, and such would be acted on “expeditiously.”
Lawan spoke when the Chairman, Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption, Itse Sagay visited him in his office on Thursday.
Sagay had called for the timely passage of the Special Criminal Court and other similar bills, saying such would help the anti-corruption war and ensure that the fight was successfully won with speed and energy.
He also appealed to the Senate to consider the confirmation of the acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Ibrahim Magu.
Responding, Lawan said, “This is a new Senate. Going by our rules and I believe that goes for the House of Reps too, any issue that was not concluded in the last National Assembly, will have to start all over again.
“So, as far as we are concerned, those bills will have to come again and start to go through the process from the very beginning.
“We are ready. In fact, we are in a haste if those bills are ready for us to start working on them.”
Lawan said there was no request before the Senate for the confirmation of the acting chairman of the EFCC.
“I want to assure you that any request that comes from Mr President is a request that will make Nigeria a better place in terms of appointments or legislation.
“When such request comes, the Senate will act expeditiously to ensure that we play our part in the confirmation or passing of legislation appropriately.”
Buhari Hails Jonathan @ 62, Says His Humility, Patriotism Will Continue to Resonate
President Muhammadu Buhari has praised former President Goodluck Jonathan’s humility and patriotism, saying that the qualities will continue to resonate.
This is contained in a message to congratulate his predecessor, who has turned 62.
The message, signed by his media aide, Mr Femi Adesina, reads, “President Muhammadu Buhari felicitates former President Goodluck Jonathan on his 62nd birthday, joining the nation in praying for longer life, good health and more strength to keep serving the nation.
“President Buhari rejoices with family, friends and political associates of the former president, lauding him for good counsels to leaders within and outside Nigeria since he left office, sharing his experience of serving at different levels of governance.
“President Buhari believes the former President’s legacy of humility and patriotism will continue to resonate, inspiring generations to come on the sacrifices made for the stability of democracy and promotion of sustainable development.
“The President wishes the former President and his family more years of joyful celebrations.”
Tottenham Hotspur: Pochettino Out, Jose Mourinho In
Jose Mourinho was on Wednesday appointed Tottenham’s new manager to replace the sacked Mauricio Pochettino, with the club languishing 14th in the Premier League.
The Portuguese former Chelsea, Real Madrid and Manchester United manager signed a contract until the end of the 2022/23 season, the north London club said in a statement.
Pochettino, 47, transformed Spurs’ fortunes after arriving from Southampton in 2014 and although he failed to win a trophy he took the club to the Champions League final for the first time in their history just six months ago.
But the Argentine was sacked on Tuesday, with Tottenham struggling in the league after picking up just three wins from their opening 12 games.
This season they were knocked out of the League Cup by fourth-tier Colchester United and suffered an embarrassing 7-2 defeat at home to Bayern Munich in the Champions League.
“I am excited to be joining a club with such a great heritage and such passionate supporters,” said Mourinho, who has won domestic titles in a record four different countries.
“The quality in both the squad and the academy excites me. Working with these players is what has attracted me.”
Spurs Chairman Daniel Levy said: “In Jose we have one of the most successful managers in football. He has a wealth of experience, can inspire teams and is a great tactician.
“He has won honours at every club he has coached. We believe he will bring energy and belief to the dressing room.”
Spurs hailed their new boss, saying in their statement: “Jose is one of the world’s most accomplished managers having won 25 senior trophies.”
He won Champions League titles with Porto and Inter Milan.
The 56-year-old Portuguese won three Premier League titles over two spells in charge of Chelsea and returned to England to manage Manchester United in 2016.
Mourinho was sacked last December following a poor run of results and has been out of work since, most recently working as a TV pundit.
His first match in charge will be the London derby away to West Ham on Saturday.