Godwin Tsa, Abuja
A former governor of Katsina State, Ibrahim Shema, said he is ready to stand trial on the N11 billion fraud charge brought against him and three others.
The Supreme Court had, last Friday, ordered the trial of the former governor alongside Sani Makana, Lawal Safana and Ibrahim Dankaba. This was after the apex Court affirmed the judgment of Court of Appeal, Kaduna, which ordered their trial.
In a unanimous ruling on the interlocutory application by the appellants, a full panel of the apex court led by Justice Sidi Bage, held that the 1999 Constitution conferred powers on the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), to prosecute suspects of graft allegations at federal and state levels.
Justice Bage also held that evidence placed before the Supreme Court had shown that the respondent (EFCC), front-loaded necessary documents along with the charge sheet to the applicants to prepare their defence.
But in his minority judgment, Justice Ejembi Eko, agreed that he should be provided with statement of claims, bank statements, documents and list of witnesses relevant to the case.
In a statement yesterday, Shema expressed his readiness to present himself to an open and fair trial. The statement signed by the Head of Media of the former governor, Olawale Oluwabusola, said Alhaji Shema, also a lawyer, is always ready to defend himself in court adding that his grouse has been against what was playing out in the allegations and trial by ambush.
Shema had approached the court challenge his trial by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), saying he was entitled to be given the proof of evidence against him in the matter and other documents filed by the commission to enable him prepare his defense properly.
Oluwabusola said, “The former governor of Katsina state, Alhaji Ibrahim Shema has received the news of the judgement of the Supreme Court as a welcome development with the decision of the court affirming his right to be provided with the statement of claims, bank statements, document and list of witnesses relevant to the charges filed against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and Katsina State Government.
“Ibrahim Shehu Shema has never been opposed to fair trial. His grouse has been against what was playing out in the allegations and trial by ambush.
“Now that the highest court in the land has spoken, he expects the EFCC and the Katsina State government to comply with and provide necessary documents to prepare his defence as provided by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“The former governor is always ready to defend himself and prove his innocence on universal principles of rule of law and fair hearing against the politically motivated smear campaign of calumny being ochestrated by the Katsina state government using agencies of state and federal government as tools to cow the opposition.”