By John Shiklam
A Federal High Court in Kaduna Monday ordered that the Deputy Speaker of the Kaduna State House of Assembly, Dogara Mato, be remanded in the custody of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Presided over by Justice Marcellous Awokulehin, Mato alongside the six former officials of Lere local government area of the state were arraigned before court over an alleged N17 million fraud.
The six other accused persons were the former interim Chairman of the council, Kabiru Tahir Malali; the former Director Finance, Ahmed Yahaya; former Director Works, Billy Graham Amos; former Director of Personnel Management, Yushau I Aboki; former Head of Health, Mrs Hannatu Iliya and former acting Chairman of the council, Eric Alhassan.
The deputy speaker and the six other accused persons were dragged to the court by the EFCC on a two-count charge following a petition written against them.
But Justice Awokulehin ordered that the six other accused persons be remanded in prison custody pending the hearing of a bail application slated for January 24, 28 and 29.
In the first count of the charge, Mato and the six others were accused by the EFCC of allegedly obtaining money by false pretence and thereby committing an offence contrary to section 8(a) of the Advance Fee Fraud and other Fraud Related offence Act, 2006 and punishable under section 1(3) of the same Act.
Also in the second count of the charge, the commission alleged that the deputy speaker and the other accused persons “obtained via fraudulent award of contract for the renovation of Government Lodge Saminaka the sum of N17 million, the property of Kaduna State Government which you knew to be false and thereby committed an offence contrary to section 1(1) of the Advance Fee Fraud and other Fraud Related Offences, Act, 2006 and punishable under section 1(3) of the same Act.”
The offences, according to the prosecuting council, Sa’ad Hanafi, were committed between March, 2011 and February, 2012.
Mato, who appeared before the court along with the other six accused persons, all pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Hanafi, who is counsel to the EFCC, prayed the court that the six accused persons be remanded in prison custody pending when witnesses would be produced to prove the allegations.
He, however, pleaded with the court not to take Mato to Prison custody since he had been granted administrative bail already.
Counsel to Mato, Othman Habib, urged the court to uphold the administrative bail already granted his client since the prosecution had no objection to it.
But, the EFCC counsel later informed the court that the commission still had another petition before it against Mato and would want him to come for more investigation to their office.
Justice Awokulehin granted the request of the commission, saying he still upheld the administrative bail enjoyed by Mato, adding, however, that since Mato had been charged to his court, he was granting the EFCC the power to take him back for the said investigation against the fresh petition written against him.
Mato is also to be produced on the said dates for proper hearing of the case against him and the rest.
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