The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission on Tuesday arraigned a former governor of Katsina State, Ibrahim Shema, for an alleged N11bn fraud.
He was arraigned before Justice Ibrahim Bako at a Katsina high court.
The presiding judge, Justice Ibrahim Bako, however, fixed February 7, 2017 for the commencement of hearing after Shema’s defence team led by Joseph Dawodu, SAN, raised the issue of the jurisdiction of the court to hear the case, shortly after the court began sitting.
The senior counsel also drew the attention of the court to the need to maintain the “ status quo” on Shema’s bail, declaring that his (Shema) trial had not commenced, hence the need for him to enjoy the bail earlier granted him.
The counsel said, “We have served a motion challenging the jurisdiction of this court to hear the case. There is a serious fundamental issue that is involved here. We have filed an application also on the competence of some of the 22 charges I understand the prosecutor has against him.
“For example, in some instances, vital documents such as bank accounts of the purported withdrawals were not attached. We were just served their own counter-affidavit this morning and we need time to respond.”
Although no charges were read against the former governor in the court, the state government had earlier set up a seven-man commission of inquiry led by Justice Muhammed Sirajo to probe Shema’s administration for alleged embezzlement of N11bn belonging to the 34 local government councils of the state.
But during Tuesday’s court session, Shema’s lead counsel pleaded with the court to first resolve the issue of the jurisdiction of the court to handle the case before entertaining any other issue.
The state counsel team led by the Katsina State Attorney General, Ahmed el-Manzur, did not object to the issue of jurisdiction raised by Shema’s counsel.
But the EFCC lead prosecutor, J.S. Okutepa, argued against Shema’s bail, maintaining that left to him, the trial should commence and the former governor should not enjoy bail.
He declared, “What we are saying sir, is that the accused person should be remanded in custody as we believe the trial has started with today’s (Tuesday) proceedings.”
Justice Ibrahim, however, fixed February 7 for the commencement of hearing on the issue of the jurisdiction of the court to handle the case.
Shema, who had earlier arrived the court at 8.50 a.m along with some of his supporters, left the court premises around 11a.m.
He had a brief stopover at the state party secretariat where he expressed appreciation to party loyalists in the state.
Shema addressed the party loyalists from his open roof black SUV in Hausa language, saying “I thank you for your support. I appreciate you all; thank you.”