Nigerians Want Yerima Charged In Sharia Court for N1b Fraud

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Ahmed Yerima

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Ahmed Yerima, a senator and former governor of Zamfara State, is facing 19-count charge in court for stealing and mismanagement of N1 billion government money, but Nigerian readers want him tried in Sharia court so that he can get a dose of what he meted out to a cow thief in 2000

By Anayo Ezugwu  |  Feb 1, 2016 @ 01:00 GMT  |

WHEN Ahmed Yerima, former Governor of Zamfara State was brought to court by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission, ICPC, on Thursday, January 21, on 19 count-charge of corruption and mismanagement of N1 billion bank loan meant for the repair of Gusau dam in 2006, some political watchers were not really excited because he is being tried in a regular court.

They wished that Yerima should be tried in a Sharia court which his government introduced while he was in office as governor. This is against the background that Yerima government amputated one Buba Jangebe for stealing a cow in the state in 2000. A good number of people would want him to appear before a Sharia court to taste the kind of punishment meted out to Jangebe if found guilty.

Since the news of Yerima’s trial got to the public domain, the social media have gone viral with calls on why the former governor and now a senator on the platform of the All Progressives Congress, APC, should be tried under Sharia law.

“This was the man that instituted Sharia law in which the hand of a man found guilty of stealing a goat was cut off. He should be tried under the same Sharia law so that his hands will be cut off if found guilty in addition to the refund of the money stolen,” wrote Tope.

“Shame if found guilty. Why? He claimed to be innocent when he used Islamic laws to deal looters of various kinds. He should be dealt with accordingly if proved guilty beyond reasonable doubt. However, all those being prosecuted for one case or the other should be banned from contesting in any elective post again in this country. This will serve as deterrent to other in-coming politicians,” Alaba Adelke said in his posting.

For Benard Owobu, “What’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. What is good for Buba Jangebe, a cow theft, that was amputated in 2000 will be very good for Yerima in 2016.”

In any case, Ejindu Charles would like to remind everyone that the former governor had cleverly exonerated himself from such punishment. As he wrote: “I am surprised by the many shouts for amputation. In an interview with Newswatch magazine, Yerima clearly stated that stealing with pen does not attract amputation. Reason? In his words, that is only a betrayal of trust.”

Indeed, the former governor is being tried before Zamfara State high court along with three others namely, Hashim Dikko, Development Management Limited and HAD Nigeria Limited. They allegedly misapplied and inflated contract sum for the supply of assorted grains to the federal government valued at N200 million.

The ICPC stated that Yerima allegedly diverted the sum of N425,491,736.75 from the N1 billion for other purposes, including assistance to the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, furniture allowance, consultancy fee, Ramadan feeding, Hajj and purchase of cars. The charges also revealed that the former governor used the sum of N574,508,263.25 for flood disaster related matters.

Mashkur Salisu, counsel for the ICPC, said the money was a bank loan meant for the repair of collapsed Gusau Dam and payment of compensation to victims affected by the tragedy. Salisu alleged that Yerima diverted the money to other purposes.  The offence, he said, is contrary to and punishable under Section 25 (1) (a) of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act 2000.

He told the court that on or about November, 2006 Yerima as the Governor of Zamfara State spent money allocated for one project on another to wit: out of N1 billion additional budgetary allocation by Zamfara State House of Assembly for the repair of collapsed Gusau Dam and settlement of the victims of the said dam, which was obtained through a bank loan, spent the sum of N20 million purportedly on assistance to the INEC.

According to Salisu, on or about October 2006 Yerima spent N10 million purportedly on donation and thereby committed an offence contrary to and punishable under section 22 (5) of the ICPC Act 2000. He said that the All Progressives Congress, APC, Senator spent N43,008,000 purportedly on surveillance of guests and thereby committed an offence contrary to and punishable under Section 22 (5).

Salisu told the court that the former governor spent N21,450,000 purportedly on settlement of publication equipment and N64,332,734 purportedly on sponsorship of government officials to Hajj. He said that the sum of N32,646,286 meant for the settlement of accommodation by Yerima’s administration was unaccounted for.

Mahmoud Abubakar, counsel for the accused pleaded with the court to grant them bail on self-recognition, assuring that they would not jump bail. Justice Bello Shinkafi granted bail to each of the accused persons for N100 million and two sureties in like sum. The judge ruled that the sureties must own landed property worth N150 million, while one of them must be resident in Gusau and adjourned the case to February 29 and March 1, for hearing.

But Yerima after the court session alleged that the case was instituted against him by his political enemies adding that he would use politics to fight back. Yerima was the first governor in Nigeria to implement Sharia in his state in its full entirety, a move that sparked negative reactions especially from Christians in the country.

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