The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Monday told a Federal High Court in Kano that the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate for the Kano Central Senatorial district election, Abdulsalam Zaura, who is being tried for an alleged $1.3 million fraud, has absconded and is nowhere to be found.
ALL IN ONE reports that the EFCC filed a charge of criminal conspiracy and obtaining money by false pretence to the tune of $1.3 million against the defendant.
When the case came up in court, the prosecution counsel, Aisha Habib, told the court that the defendant was not physically arraigned in court because he could not be found.
“This is a criminal case, and the defendant must be in court to answer his plea even if he is challenging the jurisdiction of the court to arraign him,” the counsel said.
“This is a total disrespect; the defendant has to be in court before he can file an application challenging the jurisdiction of the court to arraign him,” Habib said.
Counsel to the defendant, Ibrahim Garba-Waru, however, told the court that at this stage of the proceedings the presence of the defendant was not mandatory.
“Section 266(b) of Administration of Criminal Justice Law (ACJL) 2015 says in a criminal trial the presence of the defendant is necessary but where there is an exception of an interlocutory application challenging the jurisdiction of the court to arraign him cannot take place,” he said.
Mr Garba-Waru said the defendant is not in court because he is not physically fit to stand trial.
“The defendant on Oct.14, filed an application challenging the jurisdiction of the court to arraign him and in as much trial didn’t start his appearance in court is not necessary,” he said.
The judge, Muhammad Nasir-Yunusa, however, ruled that in a criminal case the defendant must be in court.
“This is a criminal case where is the defendant”
Mr Nasir-Yunusa ordered both parties to file written addresses on the legality of the absence of the defendant in court and adjourned the matter until 10 November
On 9 June 2020, the defendant was discharged and acquitted by a Federal High Court over a nine-count charge of $1.3 million fraud.
But after the EFCC appealed the ruling, the Court of Appeal Kano division on April 2022 ordered a fresh retrial of the case.