From Noah Ebije, Kaduna
Northern Youth Council of Nigeria (NYCN) on Tuesday divided sharply following a press conference the leadership of the Council granted over the alleged arrest of Alhaji Liman Isah Kantigi by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over alleged money laundering.
Kantigi, who is from Niger State, served as one time Chairman of Edati Local Government Council and ALGON chairman in the state.
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Addressing a press conference earlier on Monday, President of NYCN, Isah Abubakar said Alhaji Kantigi was charged alongside three other defendants in Charge Number FHC/ABJ/CR/100/2018 at the Federal High Court for offences relating to Money Laundering and Conspiracy to Commit Money Laundering at the Abuja Judicial Division of the Federal High Court on the 25th Day of June 2018.
Abubakar said Kantigi deserved to be in prison rather than running for public office to serve as a deterrent to other corrupt elements in the country.
However, in a sharp reaction, the Director-General, Media and Publicity of NYCN, Mock Kure said the President of the Northern Youth group, Isah Abubakar took a unitarily and personal decision over Kantigi.
Addressing a press conference on Tuesday, Kure said the NYCN President has been suspended from activities of the group till further notice.
“We have been reliably informed that our president, Comrade Isah Abubakar addressed a Press conference urging the EFCC to arrest Hon Isa Liman Kantigi, over what he described as an indictment by both High and Appeal Courts.
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“It is unfortunate that a person of Isah Abubakar’s standing would allow himself to be dragged into the murky water of Niger Politics, and be misled to call for the arrest of a law-abiding citizen who has contributed immensely to the development of his state and Northern Nigeria.
“To this end, the National Executive of Council met and resolved that the President, Dr Isah Abubakar be suspended forthwith from the activities of the council pending the conclusion of the investigative committee.
“The most Senior Executive has therefore been mandated to lead the council, going forward.
“This organisation is a non-partisan organisation and his recent actions of deliberate witch-hunting without verifying the veracity of the facts portrays him to have betrayed the objectives of this august body.
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“It is important for the world to note that our independent investigation into these matters has revealed the true state of affairs, that the Economic and Finacial Crimes Commission (EFCC) approached the Federal High Court, Sitting in Abuja Before Honorable Justice Dimgba J in Suit No: FHC/ABJ/CS/357/2017- between The Chairman of Economic & Financial Crimes Commission v Sadiq Air Travel and Katah Properties Limited on allegations of corruption by Alhaji Isa Liman Katingi whilst seeking as an official in Niger State seeking to forfeit monies standing in credit of two entities Sadiq Air travel and Katah Properties limited allegedly siphoned by Alhaji Liman Isa Kantingi.
“Niger State Government through its Attorney General joined in the proceedings before the Federal Court and sought for the be destitute to them upon establishment of the quilt of Alhaji Isa Lima Kantingi.
“Both the EFCC and the Niger State Government attempted in futility to link Hon Liman Isah Kantigi to the monies in the said account without any iota of proof. More so, there was no evidence of any missing funds from Niger State relating to the allegations involved.
The Federal High Court, Coram Dimgba J in a well-considered Judgment dismissed the suit and held: “Having very carefully reviewed the materials provided by Niger State Government, I do not believe that they should succeed and that a sufficient case has been made for the funds in the subject accounts to be permanently forfeited to them.
“What I have seen are assertions without sufficient proofs, in fact, I see a number of cracks in the position of the Niger State Government. Questions of which insufficient answers have been provided. For instance, if the funds are “proceeds” of funds siphoned out of Niger State, at the very least, the burden is on Niger State Government to provide evidence of how much was the income and allocation of Edati Local Government in the period in which Alhaji Liman Kantingi was the Chairman of the Local Government.
“The Court conclusively held as follows: “In totality, I do not believe that the honourable Attorney General of Niger State has discharged the evidential burden placed on it by law in this proceedings, as to entitle to an order that the funds in the accounts of Katah Property and Investment LTD and Sadiq Air Travel Agency LTD, should be permanently forfeited to the Niger State Government. I hereby refused and dismiss the claim made by the honourable Attorney General of Niger State.”
“Dissatisfied with the Judgment of the Lower Court, the Niger State Government decided to approach the Court of Appeal, Abuja Division, where their Honourable Justices unanimously dismissed the Appeal and awarded a fine of N200,000 in favour of the Three respondents in a Judgement dated 18th Day of March 2022 with Appeal Number: CA/A/453/2018.
“It is worthy to note that in all the legal rigmarole, there was no such place where Liman Isah Kantigi was ever sued or joined in suits, rather it was some companies that stood trials. Hon Isa Kantingi has not been subjected to any criminal trial or convicted by a competent court of law.
“The sweeping statement by Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu J of the Federal High Court was not a conviction known to law and subject to appeal at the Supreme Court owing to the fact that the statement was made without affording Hon Kantingi a right to a fair hearing.
“We want to categorically state that, those that are in the race to Niger State Government with Alhaji Liman Katingi should kindly avail themselves on the day of their party primaries and test their popularity among the delegates, rather than, trying to use back door approach to smear the reputation of selfless and God-fearing man whose only crime is presenting himself to serve his people,” Kure said