THE Federal High Court sitting in Kaduna has ordered that the Deputy Speaker of the Kaduna State House of Assembly, Dr. Dogara Mato, be remanded in the custody of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over an allegation of N17 million fraud brought against him.
Mato was taken to court alongside six other persons over the same allegation, but they are to be remanded in prison custody until the application for their bail is heard on January 24, 28 and 29 this year.
In a case with the charge number PHC/KD/3C/2013, brought before Justice Marcellous Awokulehin of the Federal High Court, Kaduna, between the Federal Republic of Nigeria (complainant) and Mato and six others (accused), the suspects were charged on two-count charges of fraud.
The prosecution counsel, Alhaji Sa’ad Hanafi, who read the first-count charge to the accused persons, said: “That you, Kabiru Tahir Malali, being the interim chairman of Lere Local Government Area (LGA) of Kaduna State, Dr. Dogara Mato being the Deputy Speaker, Kaduna State House of Assembly (KSHA), Ahmed Yahaya, being the former Director Finance Lere LGA; Billy Graham Amos, former Director Works, Lere LGA; Yushau I. Aboki being the former Director Personnel Management Lere LGA, Mrs. Hannatu Iliya, Head of Health Lere LGA and Eric Alhassan, being former acting chairman of Lere LGA, sometime between March, 2011 and February 2012 at Kaduna State, within the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court, conspired among yourselves to do an illegal act.”
They were all accused to have “obtained money by false pretence and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 8(a) of the Advance Fee Fraud and other Fraud Related Offences Act, 2006, and punishable under Section 1(3) of the same Act.”
In the second count charge read against Malali, Mato, Yahaya, Amos and Aboki, they were also accused “that sometimes between May 2011 and March 2012, at Kaduna State, within the jurisdiction of this court with intent to defraud, obtained via fraudulent award of contract for the renovation of Government Lodge, Saminaka, the sum of N17 million, the property of Kaduna State Government, which you knew to be false and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 1(1) of the Advance Fee Fraud and other Fraud Related Offences, Act, 2006 and punishable under Section 1(3) of the same Act.”
Mato, docked with the other six accused, all pleaded not guilty to the charges. However, counsel to the EFCC, Hanafi, then asked that the six accused be remanded in prison custody pending when he would be able to produce witnesses to prove his allegations.
He urged the court to spare Mato being taken to prison custody since he had been granted administrative bail already. But the counsel to Mato, Alhaji Othman Habib, pleaded with the Federal High Court judge to uphold the administrative bail already granted his client since the prosecution had no objection to it.
The EFCC lawyer further told Justice Awokulehin that the commission would soon present another petition before it against Mato, and would want the accused to appear for more investigation at the EFCC office.
While considering the demands of the EFCC, Justice Awokulehin said he still upheld the administrative bail ordered against Mato, stressing that since the House of Assembly legislator had been charged to his court, he was granting the EFCC the power to take him back for the said investigation against the fresh petition written against him.
The judge then ordered that the other six accused be taken to prison custody pending when application for their bail would be heard on January 24, 28 and 29 2013. Mato would also be produced on the said dates for proper hearing of the case against him and other accused.
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