The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has challenged the power of the Sokoto State Governor, Aminu Tambuwal, for pardoning five defendants including a serving commissioner in his cabinet, Alhaji Tukur Alkali, who is the Commissioner for Animal Health and Fisheries Development.
Others pardoned include the Commissioner for Home Affairs, Isa Achida; the Chairman, Governing Board, National Commission for Colleges of Education, Alhaji Maigari Dingyadi; the member representing Isa constituency at the House of Assembly, Alhaji Habibu Modachi; and a Permanent Secretary, Isah Bello.
It was learnt that all the pardoned officials, who are now serving under the current Tambuwal administration, were in 2009 arraigned alongside a former governor of Sokoto State, Attahiru Bafarawa, for an alleged N15bn fraud, having also served under him between 2002 and 2007.
The EFCC had also arraigned 10 others before a Sokoto State High Court for the same alleged offences.
Curiously, however, only those who are currently serving under Tambuwal were pardoned while the others, including Bafarawa were left to their fate.
The anti-graft agency, however, on its Facebook on Monday, said it had filed an appeal and would ensure that the five pardoned persons do not escape justice.
The EFCC said, “The EFCC, on September 25, 2017 filed an appeal at the Court of Appeal, Sokoto Division, challenging the judgment delivered by the Sokoto State High in respect of pardon granted by the Governor of Sokoto, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, to five accused persons who were charged alongside former governor Attahiru Bafarawa.
“It would be recalled that on June 29, 2017, the Sokoto State High Court presided over by Justice Bello Abbas delivered a judgment discharging five accused persons, Alhaji Tukur Alkali, Bello Isah, Alhaji Isah Sadiq, Alhaji Habibu Modachi and Alhaji Muhammadu Dingyadi.
“The ruling was sequel to a motion filed by the respondents seeking to be discharged from further criminal proceedings based on a pardon granted to them by the Sokoto State Government.”
The Chairman, Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption, Prof. Itse Sagay (SAN), condemned Tambuwal’s action, saying the money which was allegedly stolen belonged to the people of Sokoto State and not the governor.
Sagay said such an action could taint the anti-corruption war of President Muhammadu Buhari.
He said, “It is only the Attorney General of the Federation that can ask for a case that is being prosecuted by the Federal Government to be withdrawn. So, what Tambuwal did by pardoning is illegal.
“Secondly, the money that was allegedly stolen belonged to the people of Sokoto and not Tambuwal.”
Attempts to speak with Tambuwal’s Chief Press Secretary, Imam Imam, proved abortive as his telephone indicated that it was switched off while a text message was not responded to as of 9pm on Monday.