Alleged $1.3m fraud: Absence of accused Senatorial candidate in court sparks legal exchange
The court has adjourned the matter to November 10 to enable the two parties situate before the court "why A.A Zaura must be in court for trial
The All Progressives Congress ( APC) Senatorial candidate for Kano Central District, Alhaji Abdulkareem Abdulsalam Zaura who was to appear before a Kano Federal High Court on Monday to face charges of $1.3m fraud could not make it because he was "not physically fit to stand trial," according to his counsel, I.G Waru.
However, the embattled Senatorial candidate's absence again for fresh arraignment sparked legal fire works between EFCC lawyers and the defence attorney who argued that it was not mandatory for his client to be in court due to interlocutory applications over jurisdiction.
The EFCC had accused Mr. Zaura of allegedly defrauding a Kuwaiti indigene of $1.320 million allegedly obtained through false pretence.
The Court of Appeal, Kano Division, had in April, 2022, ordered a retrial of the case earlier dismissed and acquittal by Federal High Court which ruled in favour of Alhaji Zaura.
But a three-man panel of Justices of the Appellate Court, presided over by Justice Abdullahi Bayero had struck out the judgement of Justice Lewis Allagoa that discharged Zaura of the allegations in June 2020.
When the case was called on Monday,Waru informed the court, presided over by Justice Bayero that "AA Zaura is not in court because of two reasons. One, he is not physically fit for the trial; there is a medical report to that effect with us"
The Defence counsel vehemently opposed the presence of his client in court, arguing that "there is a line of difference between a criminal case and criminal trial.
He cited Section 266 Sub section B in the case of Bafarawa vs Sokoto State Government where the state High Court ruled that it wasn't mandatory for the accused person to be in court.
But the EFCC lawyers led by Aisha A Habib told the court that A.A Zaura's second absence in court was a "total disregard and disobedience to the court".
She said "criminal trial begins with arraignment, and if for want of reason/s the defendant must be in court to raise issue, he has to obey the court because he has been summoned, he can't refuse to obey court order".
Although, Zaura has headed to the Supreme Court to challenge the retrial order delivered by the appellate court, as well as stay of execution of the judgement, the defendant is yet to receive ruling on the two applications.
However, in his ruling, the presiding Justice Bayero adjourned the matter to November 10th , to enable the two parties to situate before the court "why A.A Zaura must be in court for trial."