The Court of Appeal sitting in Kaduna yesterday ruled that any accused person who has entered a plea in any criminal matter must be availed of documents, petitions and evidence for him to prepare his or her defence.
Ruling on the Appeal of the former Governor of Katsina State, Alhaji Ibrahim Shema on allegations of financial impropriety leveled against him at the Katsina High Court ,Hon.Justice H.A Abiru said it will be a breach of section 36 (b) of 1999 Constitution (as amended) if after entering a plea the court fails to order that “evidence,documents and testimonies” the anti-gaft agency intends to use in the prosecution of the corruption charges against Shema were not made available to him .
” The conclusion of the matter”,the five justices agreed is that “section 36(b) ought to have taken place where there is refusal or dissatisfaction of the High Court action by the Appellant “, Abiru said.
However, the Court that there was nothing unconstitutional in the decision of the State High Court to allow the fiat given to EFCC to prosecute ex-Governor Shema since ” by the doctrine of federalism, the EFCC can institute or prosecute criminal cases as the state laws cannot invalidate federal laws”.
“Therefore, the Attorney General (Federal or state) can delegate prosecutorial power or fiat to appropriate agencies to prosecute criminal matters”, the court further ruled.
Shema approached the Court of Appeal asking it to set aside the decision of the court to allow Katsina State Government to give fiat to a Federal Government agency (EFCC) to prosecute him for alleged financial offences.
Also,Shema alleged that he was not allowed access to the petition written against him and the nature of the specific offences alleged to have been committed by him in his 8-year reign as Katsina State Government.
Armed Policemen had a hectic time controlling the Crowd that thronged the Court of Appeal. Yesterday’s trial was similar to the previous hearings when the court was flooded by political groups and interests from Katsina State. They came in hired buses and official vehicles in manner that suggested the government was shut down for the verdict to be pronounced.
The Secretary to the State Government, Alhaji Mustapha Inuwa led team that consisted of hordes of political appointees ,including Commissioners,Special Assistant and Advisers as well as Local Government Chairmen.
At 9:35am when the commissioners’ vehicle was sighted at the gate , he was besieged by the crowd and the police had to turn the black colour Prado jeep with Registration number Katsina SGS 001 back to the forestall chaos.
The State Government has had no love lost relationship with its immediate predecessors over the manner the state was governed between 2007 and 2015.
On June 2 the Governor, Alhaji Bello Masari had accused Shema of mismanaging N50.5bn belonging to the State Government while receiving an Administrative panel’s Report . He also vowed to stop at nothing to retrieve “the stolen funds”.
Shema’s team said the report of that panel cannot be relied upon since the composition of the body had been discredited by the Court of Appeal ruling over the hiring of Hon. Justice Sirajo Mohammad to head it by the State Government.