Probe: Pro-Aliyu group storms Minna High Court in solidarity

Zenith

By Ummi Ismaeel,

Minna

The trial of former governor of Niger State, Dr. Mu’azu Babangida Aliyu, by the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) over alleged financial misappropriation began in Minna, the state capital under heavy security.

Aliyu, who was arrested by the anti-graft agents in his Abuja home about three weeks ago, arrived at the Minna High Court 11 presided over by Justice Aliyu Mohammed Maiyaki at exactly 8:40 Tuesday morning in a black Toyota Land Cruiser with registration No NPF 6914C.

The former Governor arrived the High Court along Keteren-Gwari road round-about in company of his former Chief of Staff, who is also the governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Umar Nasko, who is also facing trail alongside his former boss (Babangida Aliyu).

However, the combined security team including DSS, Police Civil Defence, FRSC, Prison officials and the VIO could not stop hhundreds of pro-Babangida Aliyu supporters who thronged the court and spread along the Western by-pass chanting anti-APC slogan and demanding the release of Aliyu.

In sympathy over the travail of the formr governor with the placards, the protesters, mostly youths were disallowed from gaining access to the court premises by the over 150 heavily armed security agents with an Armoured Personnel Carrier to quash any eventualities but they remained resolute in their demands.

 The protesters stayed all through the court process that ended in the evening as they gathered few meters away from the court premises, chanting, "In Talba we trust,” "Talba we know", "EFCC is a political dog", "Free Talba, there are more thieves in APC than PDP," "There is no change".

  Some of the protesters, who spoke to our correspondent said that the trial of Babangida Aliyu is purely political, insistng that "there are even more thieves in APC than the now opposition, PDP."

 They also questioned the decision of the anti-graft agency to arrest the former governor.

Meanehile, the Minna High Court Judge, Justice Aliyu Mayaki, has ordered that former Governor of Niger state, Dr. Muazu Babangida Aliyu, and the PDP governorship candidate in the 2015 governorship elections, Umar Mohammed Nasko, be remanded in prison custody pending a ruling on bail application on May 3, 2017.

According to Justice Mayaki, "the case is to be opened on June 12, 2017 and to be held daily till June 16 and the ruling on bail is to be delivered May 3, 2017. They are to be remanded in Medium Security prisons in Minna.

Lead Counsel to the EFCC, Gbolahan Latona, had levelled a six-count charge on Dr Muazu Babangida Aliyu as the 1st defendant and Umar Mohammed Nasko as the 2nd defendant. When the charges were read to them by Justice Mayaki, they pleaded not guilty.

They pleaded not guilty of a six-count charge levelled against them by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) bothering on misappropriation of N4, 568,680,600 belonging to Niger State.

According to the EFCC counsel, "the six-count charges levelled on the defendants are that "Dr. Mu'azu Babangida Aliyu (former Governor of Niger state as Governor and Umar Nasko (as Commissioner for Ministry Environment/Chief of Staff) between 1st January, 2011 and 31st May, 2011 conspired within yourselves to commit an illegal act to wit; criminal breach of trust and thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 97 of the Penal Code.

"Count two, that you, Dr. Mu'azu Babangida Aliyu between 1st January and 31st May, 2011 dishonestly converted to your own use the sum of N520,348,000 which was withdrawn from Niger state Government House Security Account number 1012424374 domociled in Zenith Bank Plc and you thereby committed the offence contrary to section 311 of the Penal Code punishable under section 312 of the same code.

 

"Count three, that you, Dr Muazu Babangida Aliyu some time between 1st January and 31st December 2011 dishonestly converted to your own use the sum of N1,725,837,000 which was withdrawn from Niger state Government House Security Account number 1012424374 domociled in Zenith Bank Plc and you thereby committed the offence contrary to section 311 of the Penal Code punishable under section 312 of the same code.

"Count four, that Dr. Mu'azu Babangida Aliyu as Governor and Umar Nasko (as Commissioner for Ministry Environment/Chief of Staff) between 7th April and 7th December, 2015 while being entrusted with dominion over money belonging to Niger state government dishonestly converted to your own use the sum of N1,090,000,000 which formed part of the proceeds of the sale of 16 percent shares of Niger state in North South Power company Limited and you thereby committed the offence contrary to section 311 of the Penal Code punishable under section 312 of the same code.

"Count five, that you, Dr. Mu'azu Babangida Aliyu as Governor and Umar Nasko (as Commissioner for Ministry Environment/Chief of Staff) between 7th May and 30th December, 2014 dishonestly converted to your own use the sum of N800,000,000 which sum forms part of the Ecological Funds meant for Environmental/Ecological consultancy Project by the Niger state Ministry of Environment for Zone B of Niger state and you thereby committed the offence contrary to section 311 of the Penal Code punishable under section 312 of the same code."

He continued with Count Six, "that you Dr. Mu'azu Babangida Aliyu as Governor and Umar Nasko (as Commissioner for Ministry Environment/Chief of Staff) between May and 30th December, 2014 dishonestly converted to your own use the sum of N432,495,600 which sum forms part of the Ecological Funds meant for Environmental/Ecological consultancy Project by the Niger state Ministry of Environment for Zone B of Niger state and you thereby committed the offence contrary to section 311 of the Penal Code punishable under section 312 of the same code.