Court Orders Bafarawa’s Arrest, As EFCC Declares Him Wanted
The high court of justice in Sokoto on Monday March 1, ordered the re-arrest of ex-governor Attahiru Bafarawa who is standing trial over a N15 billion corruption charge brought against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC. The order is as a result of the non-appearance of Bafarawa in the court to face trial as mandated by law . The presiding judge, Justice Abbas therefore temporarily suspended the bail earlier granted the accused person by the court. Acting on the order of the court , Chairman of the EFCC has directed that the former governor be declared wanted with a view to seeking the assistance of other security agencies across the world to arrest him.
The legal fireworks began when the defence counsel , Ricky Tafa SAN, told the court that the accused person was not in court because he had travelled to London for medical treatment on February 28 and that the treatment will last for 10 days.. He tendered a medical report to show that his client was in dire need of medical treatment and had travelled for the same purpose.He therefore prayed the court to excuse his non appearance.
However, Niyi Akinsola , SAN, the prosecution counsel raised objection on the excuse and prayed the court to reject the document tendered by the defence counsel. He said the court should not accord recognition and acceptance of the the reasons for the accused's absence in court. He said that the issue of the presence of the accused in court is governed by sections 132 and 153 of the criminal procedure code which state that it is mandatory for the accused to be in court during trial.
Akintola further said that the defence counsel should have brought an application before the court to seek for order to allow for Bafarawa's absence from court . The prosecution counsel said what the accused did by his absence in court was tantamount to jumping bail. He added that “it is only in Nigeria that an accused person on bail will be galanvanting about. The excuse of illness if allowed to hold as pleaded by the defence counsel could lead the court to be seen as codoning impunity and cause the people to lose confidence in the court and the entire judicial process”
He pointed out that the medical report was not from a government hospital as demanded by law, was undated , the nature of illness not stated, the photocopy of his passport not attached to show he had travelled as claimed and that the report was signed by a Nigerian doctor.
He prayed the court to revoke the order granting him bail citing the case of EKEH VS FRN, Nigeria Weekly Law Reports 2008.He said the revocation will tell the world that no one is above the law in Nigeria .
He subsequently asked the court to grant him some prayers which include : revoke the bail order, summon the surety to show cause why he should not forfeit his bail bond, order the arrest of the accused if in Nigeria and use Interpol to arrest him if abroad. In his ruling , Justice Abbas said having listened to the arguments of both counsel he was of the opinion that the defence counsel did not sufficiently convince the court of the excuses convassed for Bafarawa's absence.
He agreed with the position of the prosecution counsel and temporarily revoked the earlier bail granted the accused. He adjourned the case till March 17.