The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) has appealed the judgment which acquitted Senator Ahmed Sani and three others in a ‘N464.8m fraud’ charge.
Sani was charged on 19-count by ICPC alongside Hashim A. Dikko, Development Management Limited and HAD Nigeria Limited for alleged N464.8million fraud.
Part of the cash, which was voted for the repair of Gusau Dam, was diverted for other use.
The three persons were arraigned before Justice Bello Mohammed Tukur of Zamfara State High Court sitting in Gusau.
The former Zamfara State governor pleaded a no-case submission because he was not a public officer.
ICPC spokesperson Rasheedat A. Okoduwa, said the anti-graft agency filed an appeal before the Court of Appeal in Sokoto because the trial judge did not limit himself to the evidence laid before him by the prosecution.
The statement said: “The judge had ruled against ICPC in a no-case submission entered by the former governor of Zamfara State, Ahmed Sani, in an ongoing case of alleged diversion of public funds, on the major plank that the ex-governor was not a ‘public officer’ while in office.
“ In his ruling, Justice Tukur who discharged all the defendants said “it is a natural consequence of the finding that the 1st defendant (Ahmed Rufai Sani) is not a public officer.
“Not being a public officer, the 1st defendant could not be said or found to have used the public office status that is not available to him to confer any advantage upon another.”
“ICPC also appealed against the ruling on the ground that the trial judge did not limit himself to the evidence laid before him by the prosecution.
The Judge said: “…considering the position of the 1st defendant as the Governor of Zamfara State at the material time in a civilian government that of necessity must operate an open door policy, it is not out of place for a Governor to meet with people intending to do genuine business and to hold tentative or exploratory discussions.
“To dismiss or condemn such meetings or discussions as illegal or unlawful would in the view of this court unduly hinder the ability of a Governor of State to effectively administer a government…”
The Commission had earlier charged Mr. Sani and the three other defendants to court on a 19-count charge of alleged diversion of N464,820,189.24 out of N1billion loan allocated for the repair of the collapsed Gusau dam to other services contrary to S 22 (5) of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act 2000.
“The Section says: “Any public officer who transfers or spends any sum allocated for a particular project, or service, on any other project, or service, shall be guilty of an offence under this Act”.
“They were discharged on all the charges on a No-Case Submission made by their defence counsel.
“ICPC is therefore asking the Court of Appeal sitting in Sokoto to set aside the ruling and order the defendants to start their defence of the case before another judge of the High Court of Zamfara State.