A five-man panel of the Court of Appeal sitting in Sokoto and presided over by Justice Hannatu Sankey has, in two separate appeals, voided the state pardon granted to some former officials of the state who were prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC at the Sokoto state High Court.
Delivering the lead judgments in the two appeals filed by the EFCC against Alhaji Muhammad Maigari Dingyadi (former SSG) and Isa Sadiq Achida, Justice Sankey and Justice Ndukwe-Anyawu both held that the governor’s pardon was invalid since the accused persons were still undergoing trial.
The judge further held that the accused person who had not been convicted was presumed innocent and therefore could be validly granted state pardon by the governor. Consequently, the Court set aside the instrument of pardon as well as the discharge of the accused persons by the trial court.
The appeal court further ordered that the two accused persons be tried by another judge of the State High Court other than Justice Bello Abbass who handled the initial trial. It would be recalled that the accused persons were being tried alongside former governor of Sokoto State, Attahiru Dalhatu Bafarawa, over a N15billion fraud.
A Sokoto State High Court presided over by Honourable Justice Bello Abbas delivered a ruling which discharged them alongside three others, Alhaji Tukur Alkali, Bello Isah and one Alhaji Halilu Modachi. Their discharge was sequel to a motion filed by the accused persons seeking to be discharged from further criminal proceedings based on a pardon granted to them by the Sokoto State Governor.
Dissatisfied with the ruling of the lower court, the EFCC approached the court of appeal sitting in Sokoto praying that the ruling of the lower court be set aside.