The former governor of Kebbi, Usman Saidu Dakingari has again failed to appear before the Federal High Court sitting in Kebbi for his arraignment after being duly served with the fifteen count charge on the 20th day of June, 2018.
On the last adjourned date, the court issued an order of substituted service on the 1st, 2nd and 3rd defendants which was duly executed by the prosecution on all the three defendants but still when the case was called today, only the 4th defendant, Garba Rabiu Kamba was in court.
However, in today’s proceeding, the 1st, 2nd and 3rd defendants through their counsels informed the court of their clients predicaments for not appearing before it.
Counsel for the 1st defendant, Ibrahim Mohammed, informed the court that his client is still out of the country and he became aware of the charge against him on the 20th day of June, 2018 after which he briefed them to appear on his behalf to plead with the court to grant them an adjournment of seven days.
After pleading for an adjournment, the defence counsel moved an application for preliminary objection which he filed on the 22nd of June, 2018.
In his preliminary objection, the first defendant challenges the jurisdiction of the court to entertain the matter on ground that the procedure followed to serve his client violated the provision of rule 5 of the Federal High Court practice direction, 2013.
The prosecution counsel, Johnson Ojogbane opposed the preliminary objection orally. Ojogbane argued that, the 1st defendant doesn’t have right to raise any objection at this stage. Ojogbane supported his argument with section 396(1)(2) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015 which says all application may be raised after the plea of the defendant has been taken.
“The defendant has right to bring any objection but such objection can only be taken after plea had been taken. The defendant in this case has not submitted himself to this court. We urge my Lord to reject and dismiss the application in its entirety”, Ojogbane submitted.
Ojogbane further submitted that, it is not 0correct where the defence counsel said that his client only became aware of the charge on the 20th June.
He reminded the court that in his motion experte which the court ruled on at the last adjourned date where the defendant was instructed to appear in court, the prosecution made it clear of the effort they put to ensure the defendant was served but it yielded no result because the 1st defendant refused to honour invitation by the commission.
On the issue of rule 5 of Federal High Court Practice Direction, Ojogbane responded with section 382(5) of ACJA which is an Act of the National Assembly. And according to him, an Act of the National Assembly is superior to Direction.
In his ruling, Justice Amobeda agreed with the prosecution and dismissed the application.
Counsel for the 2nd defendant, Lagalo Dan Lagalo apologised to the court for his client’s absence which according to him was because his client, like the 1st defendant, is also not in the country.
Counsel for the 3rd defendant, A. Maidawa informed the court that his client was not in court due I’ll health which the prosecution also confirmed.
Consequently, Ojogbane after thanking the court for sound ruling, requested the court to invoke section 394 of ACJA for a bench warrant to be issued on the 1st and 2nd defendants.
Both counsels for the 1st and 2nd defendants conceded the fact that the court can invoke section 394 as prayed by the prosecution counsel, but pleaded with the court to for leniency and mercy. They both however undertook to bring their clients before the court on the 2nd July, 2018 for arraignment.
After listening to the prayers of both parties, Justice Amobeda adjourned the matter at the instance of the defendants and ordered their counsels to bring them on the 2nd July, 2018.
He however warned that, failure to bring the 1st and 2nd defendants would leave him no option but to invoke section 394 of ACJA and issue a bench warrant for their arrest.
The case has been adjourned to July 2nd, 2018 for arraignment.
Dakingari is being accused alongside three others, Sunday Dogonyaro, Abdullahi Yelwa and Garba Rabiu Kamba for allegedly receiving cash sum N700, 000,000 (Seven Hundred Million Naira Only) part of the $115,000,000 allegedly distributed by the former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Deizani Allison Madueke for the purpose of influencing 2015 general election.