Former Katsina State governor, Ibrahim Shehu Shema, is to spend three days in the custody of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) pending the determination of his bail application over N5.7 billion Subsidy Re-Investment and Empowerment Programme (SURE-P) funds allegedly stolen from the state government purse under his watch as governor.
Justice Babagana Ashgar of the Federal High Court Katsina yesterday ordered Shema to be remanded at the anti-graft body’s custody after he pleaded not guilty to a 26 count charge preferred against him by the commission and the state government.
The judge overruled the oral application of Shema’s led counsel, Emmanuel Ukala (SAN), for an interim bail pending the determination of his bail application filed on 18th April, 2018, and adjourned the case till 27th April, 2018.
The prosecution counsel led yesterday by Ologun Orisha (SAN), in his submission, urged the court to remand the former governor pending when proper application would be made by the defence and heard by the court in view of the gravity of the present charge against the defendant which attracts a minimum of seven years imprisonment.
He maintained that the judge had no inherent power to grant request for an interim bail made orally when the same party had a pending bail application before the court.
Orisha said: “To compound the problem, the prosecution has joined issues by way of counter-affidavit which is yet to be resolved. We submit that the court can’t close its eyes to that counter-affidavit.”
Earlier, the former governor’s legal team argued that the discretion of the court would be more appropriately exercised by discountenancing the counter-affidavit which was yet to be served on the defence as at that time and that the court should permit the defence to move its bail application orally.
“We urge My Lord to take into account the fact that the provision of Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) 2015 are geared towards bail being granted on liberal terms,” said Ukala (SAN), adding that the defendant is a senior lawyer and former chief executive of the state whose international passport is in the custody of the federal government and who also decided to be in the court without summons issued against him.
Yesterday’s proceeding commenced with the court overruling the defence on the issue of its jurisdiction to entertain the case which put an end to the protracted legal tussle over whether the former governor should take his place in the dock and take his plea.
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