A five-man panel of the Court of Appeal sitting in Sokoto and presided over by Justice Hannatu Sankey, in two separate appeals on Thursday, voided the pardon granted to some former officials of the state who were prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, at the Sokoto High Court.
The EFCC had condemned the pardon, a development which drew the anger of the state government.
Delivering lead judgements 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 persons, who had not been convicted was presumed innocent, and therefore could not 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 N15 billion 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.