N1bn Ecological Funds Trial: Former Niger Gov. Aliyu Challenges Court’s Territorial Jurisdiction to Try Him

Former Niger State Governor, Babangida Aliyu, Thursday, challenged the territorial jurisdiction of a Federal High Court in Abuja to try him on money laundering charges.
The Federal Government is prosecuting Aliyu alongside the 2015 governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and a former Niger State Commissioner for Environment, Parks, Gardens and Forest Resources, Umar Nasko, on an eight-count charge of money laundering.
When the matter came up Thursday before Justice Nnamdi Dimgba, the defence counsel, Mamman Usman (SAN) informed the court of an application of preliminary objection by the defence challenging the territorial jurisdiction of the court in Abuja to try the defendants.
According to Usman, though the prosecution said it was ready for trial but “prior to today (Thursday) we filed application on territorial jurisdiction of the court. All the witnesses are in Minna, the alleged offences were committed in Minna and there is High Court in Minna where they are being tried for other offences, why trying them in Abuja. The matter should be transferred to Minna”, he held.
He said he was relying on the relevant sections of the Criminal Act to move the application, for the court in Abuja not to entertain the matter.
Usman prayed the court to decline jurisdiction saying it will not be fair to subject the defendants and witnesses in the matter to discomfort
Earlier, the prosecution counsel, Ben Ikani told the court that he was ready with his witnesses in court for trial to commence in the matter.
The court adjourned till October 5 to take submissions on the application.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had arraigned the duo on eight-count charge of conspiring and diverting over N1bn ecological funds which the state was said to have received from the Federal Government in 2014.
They allegedly paid the money into the account of a private company, D-Sabrin International Limited, through the Niger State Ministry of Environment.
Some of the counts preferred against them in the case marked FHC/ABJ/CR/71/2017 read, “That you, Dr Muazu Babangida Aliyu (whilst being the Executive Governor of Niger State) and Umar Muhammed Nasko (whilst being the Commissioner for Environment, Parks, Gardens and Forest Resources in Niger State) sometime in 2014, at Minna, within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, did conspire between yourselves to commit an offence to wit; money laundering of ecological funds released by the Federal Government to the Niger State Government and, thereby, committed an offence contrary to section 18(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 (as amended) and punishable under section 15(3) of the same Act.”

Author: News Editor

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