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Bauchi: Judge’s absence stalls arraignment of governor-elect

The arraignment of the governor-elect of Bauchi State, Bala Mohammed has been stalled following the absence of the presiding judge. Bala Mohammed, who was elected…

The arraignment of the governor-elect of Bauchi State, Bala Mohammed has been stalled following the absence of the presiding judge.
Bala Mohammed, who was elected on the platform of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), was scheduled for arraignment today before an FCT High Court in Maitama on a fresh 6-counts charge  bordering on false declaration of assets and giving false information to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
However, while Mohammed and his counsels were in court on Monday together with counsel for the EFCC, the court did not sit.
A court official told our reporter that the presiding judge, Justice Yusuf Halilu was on election petition duty in Abeokuta, Ogun State.
The official said a new date was however not fixed for the arraignment so as to avoid what happened today where parties would come to court and the judge would not be available to sit.
Outside the court, counsel for the EFCC, Wahab Shittu, while speaking to journalists, debunked insinuation that the arraignment was a political witch-hunt against the governor-elect.
He said, “EFCC is an anti-corruption agency, it does not play politics. It exists to serve the public.”
On the arraignment, he said “It is a matter that was ongoing before another judge who has now been elevated to the Court of Appeal. The expectation was that the matter would soon be reassigned to another judge.”
“Just a week ago, the registry of this court sent us a notice that today has been fixed for the re-arraignment of the defendant. It was not at the instance of the court.”
“You know when a case is transferred to another court, it starts de novo (afresh).”
He added that no one should see what was happening as an attempt by the EFCC to intimidate anyone. “Let us focus on the matter before the court. EFCC exists to serve everybody,” he said.

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