A five-man panel of the Court of Appeal sitting in Sokoto and presided over by Justice Hannatu Sankey has, in two separate appeals, voided the pardon granted to some former officials of the state who were being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) at the High Court.
Delivering the lead judgments in the two appeals filed by the EFCC against Alhaji Muhammad Maigari Dingyadi (former Secretary to the State Government) and Isa Sadiq Achida, Justice Sankey and Justice Ndukwe-Anyawu both held that the governor’s pardon was invalid since the accused persons were still undergoing trial.
The acting spokesman of the EFCC, Tony Orilade, disclosed the verdict in a statement yesterday in Abuja.
According to Orilade, the judge further held that the accused person who had not been convicted was presumed innocent and therefore could not be validly granted state pardon by the governor.
He maintained that the court set aside the instrument of pardon as well as the discharge of the accused persons by the trial court.
The Appeal Court further ordered that the two accused persons be tried by another judge of the State High Court other than Justice Bello Abbass who handled the initial trial.
The accused persons were being tried alongside former governor of Sokoto State, Attahiru Dalhatu Bafarawa, over an alleged N15 billion fraud.
The High Court presided over by Justice Abbas delivered a ruling, which discharged the accused persons alongside three others, Alhaji Tukur Alkali, Bello Isah and one Alhaji Halilu Modachi.
Their discharge was sequel to a motion filed by the accused persons seeking to be discharged from further criminal proceedings based on a pardon granted them by the governor.
Dissatisfied with the ruling of the lower court, the EFCC approached the Court of Appeal, praying that the ruling be set aside.