A Sokoto State High Court on Tuesday discharged and acquitted a former governor of the state, Alhaji Attahiru Bafarawa, and two others of 22 corruption charges filed against them by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
The anti-graft agency accused Bafarawa, who was Sokoto State Governor between 1999 and 2007, and the others of misappropriating and embezzling N15bn.
But in his three-hour judgment on Tuesday, the trial judge, Justice Bello Abbas, dismissed the entire 22 charges against Bafarawa, saying the anti-graft agency failed to prove the allegations beyond reasonable doubts.
But the EFCC rejected the judgment, vowing to challenge it on appeal.
In a statement on Tuesday by its spokesman, Wilson Uwujaren, the EFCC said it was unfortunate that despite the nine witnesses it presented before the court, the judge failed to convict the accused persons
Those charged along with Bafarawa but acquitted by the court were Beedash Nigeria Limited, Nasdabap Nigeria Limited, Alhaji Nasiru Bafarawa and Alhaji Salihu Gummi.
Uwujaren said, “In the course of the trial, the EFCC had called nine witnesses and presented several documents that were admitted in evidence while the defendants called only six witnesses.
“Surprisingly, Justice Abbas discharged and acquitted the accused persons of all counts on the premise that the evidence presented by the prosecution were mere hearsay and that there was no documentary evidence to back up the claim of witnesses.
“The commission believes that the judge erred in law and has mandated its counsel to immediately appeal the ruling at the Court of Appeal.
“The judgment of Justice Abbas is the climax in the series of twists and turns that the trial had witnessed over the last nine years or so.”
Meanwhile, Bafarawa, who is aspiring to be President in 2019 on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party, thanked Nigerians for believing in him and also the judiciary for being the last hope of the common man.
He recalled writing a petition against his successor, Aliyu Wammako, accusing him of misappropriating the N12bn he (Bafarawa) left in the state coffers at the end of his tenure; and another N500m in the account of Sultan Maccido Institute of Quranic and General Studies.
Bafarawa challenged President Muhammadu Buhari and the EFCC to dust his petition and invite Wammako.