N700m Diezani bribe: Absence of defendant stalls ex-Kaduna, Yero’s trial

The trial of a former governor of Kaduna State, Muktar Ramalan Yero and three others before Justice Z.B. Abubakar of the Federal High Court sitting in Kaduna could not continue on January 24, 2019 due to the absence of one of the defendants, a former Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP in the state.

Yero was re-arraigned on November 27, 2018 along with Nuhu Somo Waya, a former Minister of State; Abubakar Haruna Gaya, a former PDP Chairman, Kaduna State Chapter, and Hamza Ishaq, a former Secretary to the state government. They were arraigned on an eight-count charge bordering on “conspiracy, bribery, money laundering and criminal diversion of funds to the tune of N700 million”.

Count one of the charge reads: “That you, Muktar Ramalan Yero, whilst being the Executive Governor of Kaduna State; Nuhu Somo Waya, whilst being a former Minister of State of the Federal Republic of Nigeria; Ishaq Hamza, whilst being the Secretary to the Kaduna State Government, and Abubakar Gaya Haruna, whilst being the Chairman PDP Kaduna State Chapter, sometime in 2015 in Kaduna within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court did conspire amongst yourselves to commit crime to wit: indirectly taking possession of the sum of N700 million, which you ought to have known forms part of unlawful activity to wit; bribery and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 18(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition)Act, 2011 ( as amended) in 2012 and punishable under Section 15(3)of the same Act”.

They all pleaded “not guilty” to the charges, and the case was adjourned to today for commencement of trial.

At the resume hearing, however, counsel for the second defendant, S. Atung, holding brief for Dr. A. Adewale, counsel for the fourth defendant, sought leave of the court for an adjournment to enable his client attend to his ill-health.

He further told the court that “I personally visited him upon a phone call by his family member,” he said.

Prosecuting counsel, J. Saidi, did not oppose the application for an adjournment.

Justice Abubakar thereafter adjourned the case to March 20, 2019 for “hearing”.

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