Alleged 37bn theft: Court sends ex-Jigawa gov, Saminu Turaki, to Kuje prison
Barely five days after a High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Maitama, Abuja, granted bail to a former Governor of Jigawa State, Saminu Turaki, a Federal High Court in Abuja on Tuesday ordered his remand in Kuje Prison, Abuja.
Although Justice Nnamdi Dimgba of the Federal High Court granted bail to the ex-governor on fresh bail conditions on Tuesday, he ordered the defendant to remain in Kuje Prisons, Abuja, pending when the bail conditions were met.
Justice Dimgba gave the order shortly after the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission re-arraigned Turaki and three companies on 32 counts of money laundering offences involving about N37bn.
The defendants allegedly committed the offences between 2006 and 2007 while the former governor was in office.
Turaki, alongside his co-defendants — INC Natural Resources Ltd., Arkel Construction Nigeria Ltd and Wildcat Construction Ltd — were earlier arraigned before the Dutse, Jigawa State Division of the Federal High Court, in 2011.
But he was said to have since evaded trial until the EFCC, acting on an arrest warrant issued against Turaki by the court in Dutse about three years ago, arrested him on July 4, 2017, at an event in Abuja.
While the EFCC was facilitating how to produce him before the court in Dutse, the judge went on his annual vacation and Turaki then filed a rights enforcement suit before the FCT High Court in Abuja, seeking an order of the court releasing him from the anti-graft agency’s custody.
He also filed an interlocutory application which he urged the court to consider before the hearing of the main suit.
The application was opposed by the EFCC on the grounds that with Turaki’s antecedent of jumping bail earlier granted him six years ago by the Federal High Court in Dutse and his evasion of the arrest warrant issued by the same court about three years ago, he would likely jump bail again.
But in his ruling on Thursday, Justice Yusuf Halilu of the FCT High Court granted bail to the ex-governor on conditions which merely required him to submit his travel documents to the registry of the court, produce “two reasonable sureties” residing in Abuja, and sign a register to be opened at the EFCC’s office every two weeks.
But instead of releasing him, the EFCC filed afresh in the Federal High Court in Abuja, the same set of charges already pending against the defendants before the court in Dutse.
The anti-graft agency then re-arraigned Turaki and the three companies before Justice Dimgba in Abuja, being the only judge sitting as a vacation judge in the northern region of the country while the other Federal High Court judges proceed on vacation.
After Turaki pleaded not guilty to the 32 counts on Tuesday, Justice Dimgba said he was inclined to granting bail to the ex-governor “in deference” to the earlier bail granted the defendant by Justice Halilu of the FCT High Court.
He asked the prosecution and the defence led by Mr. Ahmed Raji (SAN), to agree on the bail conditions to be imposed on the defendant.
The judge resumed sitting after about 10 minutes.Punch