By Sam Kayode
The Court of Appeal sitting in Gombe State has ordered the reassignnment of a case involving a former Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Abdu Bulama and four others to another Federal High Court for retrial.
A press release isssued by the Economic annd Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) recalled that the former minister was arraigned by the Maiduguri Zonal Office of the EFCC, on Friday, May 29, 2018 before Justice Isa Dashen of the Federal High Court, Damaturu, Yobe State on a seven count charge that bordered on money laundering to the tune of N450 million.
Bulama was prosecuted alongside Mohammed Kadai, a former Commissioner for Integrated and Rural Development in Yobe State and Deputy Coordinator of Goodluck Jonathan Campaign Organisation, Abba Gana Tata; Muhammad Mamu and Hassan Jaks.
In the cause of the trial, Counsel for the EFCC, Mukhtar Ahmed presented six witnesses and tendered several documents that were admitted in evidence by the federal high Court.
At the close of the prosecution’s case, the defendants opted for a “no case submission” even as Justice Isa Dashen of the Federal High Court, upheld the “no case submission”, discharged and acquitted all the defendants.
Dissatisfied with the ruling, the EFCC filed an appeal, asking the Appellate Court to set aside the decision of the lower Court to free the accused.
The Appeal Court in its judgment of March 3, 2021, upheld the argument of the EFCC that the lower Court erred in discharging and acquitting the defendants.
“The judgment read by Justice Tunde Awotoye, held that “the charge No. FHC/DM/CR/25/2018 FRN VS DR ABDU BULAMA & 4 OTHERS is ordered to be remitted back to the lower court to be reassigned to another Federal High Court Judge other than Justice Isah Dashen to be heard de novo.” Said the release.
The Court held that “…there is inferential evidence against the respondents which should not be brushed aside.”
Investigations by the EFCC revealed that Bulama and co-defendants received and shared the said sum which was provided by Mrs. Diezani Alison Madueke, former Minister of Petroleum Resources, to influence the outcome of the 2015 Presidential Election.