Buhari welcomes sacked PDP leader standing trial for receiving N500m from Diezani to APC

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President Muhammadu Buhari has received a former national chairman of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Babayo Gamawa, accused of N500million fraud.

Mr Gamawa was sacked earlier by the PDP for “anti-party activities” but soon defected to the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, and was received by Mr Buhari.

Mr Gamawa, a one-time Speaker, Bauchi State House of Assembly, a former deputy governor and a former senator representing Bauchi North, was received by the president at the State House alongside Bauchi State Governor, M.A. Abubakar and Kaulaha Aliyu.

On June 7, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission arraigned Mr Gamawa, Ibrahim Dandija, an SSG under ex-governor Yuguda for six years; Aliyu Jalam, Dahiru Madaki, Sanusi Isa and Aminu Hamayo, a one-time Commissioner for Finance and a former SSG for N500m fraud.

The case, which first came up before the Federal High Court, Bauchi, was presided over by Justice Mohammed Abubakar.

According to the EFCC, the accused persons illegally received N500 million in 2015 from the then Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Allison-Madueke, before the general election to facilitate victory for the PDP in the state.

Abubakar Aliyu, Counsel to the EFCC, had urged the court to commence trial of the five out of the six accused persons since the sixth accused Ahmed Dandija was not in court after being served court processes alongside others.

Mr Aliyu suggested that the court in the alternative expunge the name of Mr Dandija from the list and the five others should be arraigned.

He said that Mr Dandija, who is said to be on medical trip abroad, would be arraigned on his return.

The counsel urged the court to issue a bench warrant on Mr Dandija so that he could be brought to court for arraignment after being served with notice on motion by his counsel.

Nasiru Malam, Counsel to Mr Dandija, on his part, urged the court not exclude his client from the list because they were jointly arraigned for the same offence.

Mr Malam further urged the court not to arraign his client in absentia as he had travelled out of the country for medical treatment and, moreover, his client was yet to be served.

He said that the court processes for his client was just served on him in court and urged it to delay the arraignment of his client to enable him appear in person to take his plea as the charge was criminal in nature.

Justice Mohammed Shittu, while ruling on the case, said that the court could not arraign the accused persons because the sixth defendant was not in court.

Mr Shittu said that the case before him was criminal in nature, therefore, the defendant must be served in person to enable him appear before the court to take his plea.

He equally refused to issue bench warrant on Mr Dandija, saying that “it is in our practice that until a defendant refuses to accept a summon he cannot be issued warrant of arrest.”

The judge ordered that Mr Dandija should be properly served before the adjourned date and released the five other defendants on administrative bail.

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