The senatorial candidate of the All Progressive Congress (APC) for Kano Central district, Alhaji Abdulkareem AbdulSalam Zaura, who was to be in court on Monday over an alleged $1.3 million fraud was absent at the court because according to his counsel, he “is not physically fit to stand trial.”
His counsel, IG Waru, said this at the Federal High Court in Kano.
Alhaji Zaura’s absence sparked a debate between EFCC lawyers and the defence attorney. The defence attorney argued that it was not mandatory for his client to be in court due to interlocutory applications over jurisdiction.
It will be recalled that the EFCC had accused Zaura to have allegedly defrauded a Kuwaiti indigene of $1.320 million allegedly obtained through false pretence.
The court of appeal, Kano division in April 2022, ordered a fresh retrial of the case earlier dismissed and acquitted by a Federal High Court which ruled in favour of Zaura.
The panel of three justices of the appellate, presided by Justice Abdullahi Bayero had struck out the judgement of Justice Lewis Allagoa that discharged Zaura of the alleged financial theft in June 2020.
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Waru, on Monday, informed the court presided over by Justice Abdullahi Bayero that “AA Zaura is not in court because of two reasons. One: he is not fit physically fit for the trial. There is a medical report to that effect with us.”
The defence counsel who vehemently opposed the presence of his client in court had argued that “there is a line of difference between a criminal case and criminal trial.
According to him, “Section 266 Subsection B in the case of Bafarawa vs Sokoto State government where the state high court ruled that it wasn’t mandatory for the accused person to be in court.
But the EFCC lawyers led by Aisha Habib told the court that AA Zaura’s absence for the second time was a “total disregard and disobedience to the court.”
She said, “Criminal trial begins with arraignment, and if for want of reason, the defendant must be in court to raise the issue. He has to obey the court because he has been summoned. He can’t refuse to obey court orders.”
Although Zaura has headed to the Supreme court to challenge the retrial order delivered by the appellate court, as well as a stay of execution of the judgement, the defendant is yet to receive a ruling on the two applications.
However, in his ruling, the presiding judge, Justice Abdullahi Bayero adjourned the matter to November 10, to enable pro and opposing counsel to situate before the court “why AA Zaura must be in court for trial.”