A Minna Federal High Court on Thursday ordered the immediate arrest of the former governor of Niger State, Dr. Babangida Aliyu and his former Chief of Staff and governorship candidate of the People Democratic Party, Umar Gado Nasko for shunning the court order to answer to a N1.9 billion fraud case preferred against them by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
The former governor is standing trial alongside Nasko, a former Commissioner of Environment, on eight counts bordering on criminal conspiracy and money laundering.
The offences are contrary to Section 18(a) of the Money Laundering Act, 2011 as amended and punishable under Section 15(3) of the same Act.
The two are accused of laundering ecological funds of over N1.940bn released by the Federal Government to the state in 2014.
The judge, who was visibly angry over the absence of ex-Governor Aliyu and Nasko in court despite the issuance of hearing notice, said their action showed disrespect to the court.
The anger of the judge stemmed from the fact that the two men did not show up in court despite being served with hearing notices. When the matter came up on Thursday, the two suspects and their lawyers were not present in court.
The accused persons were formerly arraigned before Justice Bogoro Yelin where they pleaded not guilty to the charges. But following the transfer of Justice Yelin the matter was remitted to Justice Aliyu who is handling the matter afresh.
However, a lawyer to one of the accused persons, Mr. Osuman Mamma (SAN) was said to have written to the court that he was before an election petitions tribunal and could not come for the hearing. But the court questioned why the senior lawyer did not send another lawyer to represent him in court and consequently revoked the bail granted to the suspects.
The judge adjourned the case to Monday, May 27, 2019.
Babangida Aliyu, who was popularly called “Chief Servant’ was governor of Niger State until 2015.