By Vivian Okejeme Abuja
The arraignment of the governor-elect of Bauchi State, Bala Mohammed, before federal capital territory high court Maitama, yesterday, stalled due to the absence of the trial judge, Justice Yusuf Haliru.
The Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) has filed a criminal charge again Bala, bordering on accepting gratification in form of a house valued at N550million on No 2599 & 2600 Cadastral Zone, AO4 Asokoro District, Abuja, from Aso Savings & Loans Plc in 2014.
The anti graft agency, in the suit number CR/177/17, through the prosecuting counsel, Mr Wahab Shittu, said the alleged gratification was accepted as reward by Mohammed “for performing your official duties”.
Mohammed, who was elected as a Bauchi state governor, on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party, was present in court to take his plea.
The prosecution counsel was also present but the court did not sit because the judge, was on election petition duty in Abeokuta, Ogun State.
Speaking to the news men, counsel to the EFCC, Mr Wahab Shittu, said ‘’EFCC as an anti corruption agency does not play politic but to serve the public.”
He informed that the arraignment is not a new case but case file is transfered to a new judge. “It is a matter that was ongoing before another judge who has now been elevated to the Court of Appeal.
“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 (afresh).”
He added that no one should see what was happening as an attempt by the EFCC to intimidate anyone.
“Let us focus on the matter before the court. EFCC exists to serve everybody,” he said.
According to the prosecution agency, the offence is contrary to Section 18 (b) of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act 2000 and punishable under Section 18 (d).
Among the six-count charge is an allegation that the governor-elect made a false statement to an EFCC investigating officer, Ishaya Dauda, that he acquired the Cadastral Zone property through a mortgage facility from Aso Savings & Loans.
Mohammed won election on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was also accused of failing to make full disclosure of his property on 54, Mike Akhigbe Street, Jabi, Abuja in the course of filing his asset declaration form at the EFCC.
The commission said the offence is contrary to Section 27 (3) (a) of the EFCC (Establishment) Act 2004 and punishable under Section 27 (3) (c).
The prosecution also accused Mohammed of failing to declare a property on Agwan Sarki Kaduna in Kaduna State.
EFCC said the governor-elect made a false declaration that a property on CITEC Kwara House 5, AP Street, Mbora, Abuja belongs to him. The commission said the property actually belongs to Abubakar Abdu Mohammed.
EFCC said Mohammed, in 2014, “did use your office and position to confer corrupt and undue advantage upon your associates by allocating four numbers of fully detached duplexes and eleven numbers semi-detached duplexes valued at N314million only through the Presidential Tax Force on Sale of Government Houses to them…”