The Kano State Government has charged a former Managing Director of the state’s Agricultural Supply Company, (KASCO), Bala Muhammad, with over N4 billion fraud.
He was charged alongside his son, his organisation, and two others.
The charges were filed against them by the office of the state’s Attorney-General, following investigations by the Public Complaint and Anti-Corruption Commission (PCACC).
The PCACC disclosed that its investigations revealed that the defendants diverted over N4 billion from the account of the state’s agricultural supply company into personal accounts.
In a court document exclusively obtained by PREMIUM TIMES, the anti-corruption commission alleged in the charges filed on 3 August, that Mr Muhammed and his son, Bala Muhammed (Junior), his organisation – the Association of Compassionate Friends – and two others diverted over N4 billion in public funds.
The case was first mentioned in court on 6 August. It was further transferred to another judge of the Kano State High Court, Hafsat Sani.
After it was mentioned before Mrs Sani, Mr Muhammed and his co-defendants filed a notice of preliminary objection on 14 August to challenge the jurisdiction of the court.
They argued in the application that the commission itself did not have the power to investigate, arrest and prosecute the case on the ground that there was a subsisting judgement in the High Court delivered by Usman Na’Abba, on the jurisdiction case.
In their reply, the state government, opposed the preliminary objection and urged the court to dismiss it on the basis that the commission was created by law which gave it the power to investigate cases of corruption like Mr Muhammad’s case.
The government noted that after investigation, the commission referred the matter to the Attorney General of Kano State who has the power to file charges against any person in Kano State.
The court, in its ruling, held that PCACC has the power to investigate arrest and refer the matter to the Attorney General for prosecution. The court dismissed the preliminary objection for lacking in merit.
“Under section 15 (1) (a) and (b) of the state Anti-Corruption Enabling law, it shall have the power to receive and investigate any allegation of corrupt practices against any person and refer the matter to the Attorney General of the state for necessary action.
“The commission has the power to investigate and refer to the Attorney General any allegation of improper or non-performance of any government contract for necessary action.
“Against all these backgrounds, I hold that this court has the requisite jurisdiction to hear and determine suit No K/154C/2023 between the state and Bala Inuwa Muhammed and four others.
“Accordingly, this court assumes such jurisdiction forthwith and I dismiss the preliminary objection filed by the applicants,” the judge ruled.
The ruling on the preliminary objection was delivered on 18th October and the substantive case was fixed for 2nd November.
Highlights of charges
The state government filed a nine-count charge, accusing the defendants of diverting to various bank accounts over N4 billion between August 2022 and April 2023, while Mr Muhammad was serving as managing director of the Kano State Agricultural Supply Company.
Specifically, the prosecution alleged in the first count that Mr Muhammed transferred over N3.2 billion from the account of KASCO and the Kano State Federal Allocation Account in the name of grant to KASCO.
One of the KASCO accounts is domiciled with Zenith Bank with number 1014477161. The other is domiciled in Unity Bank with number 0005195864. The Kano State Federal Allocation Account with the grant to FCMB is domiciled with FCMB with account number 4968083012.
Mr Muhammed, also, allegedly diverted the N3.2 billion to the third defendant’s account, 1011994467 domiciled in Zenith Bank Plc. He was accused of subsequently sharing the money into accounts “without justifiable reasons thereby committing an offence contrary to section 96 of the Penal Code and punishable under section 97 of the Penal Code law.”
PREMIUM TIMES’ review of the charges showed that Mr Muhammed who is the sole signatory of the account of a Business name, Limestone Processing Links, allegedly transferred N480 million from the KASCO account into the business name account No. 0126068718 domiciled in Union Bank which he controls. The prosecution accused him of committing an offence contrary to section 289 and punishable under the same section.
The prosecution also alleged that Mr Muhammed while trying to conceal his act, shared N15 million with eight officials of the Kano State Agricultural Supply Company Ltd from the company’s account into their account. The offence, described as involving corrupt offers to the public officers is said to be contrary to section 23 of Public Complainants and anti-Corruption Commission Law 2008 (as amended) and punishable under the same section.
In other counts, Mr Muhammed allegedly diverted N78.6 million to one Abubakar Bawuro through the account of a business named STL Enterprises with account number 7085982019 domiciled in the FCMB. The diversion was allegedly done under the false pretence of supplying 190,065.125 units of Dolomite materials which is not meant to be and was never supplied. He thereafter, according to the prosecution, made false return with goods received note number No.2659. The offence is said to be contrary and punishable under section 26 of the Kano State Public Complaints and Anti-Corruption Commission Law 2008 (as amended).
In summary, the prosecution alleged that Mr Muhammed transferred over N4 billion unlawfully into different accounts belonging to other defendants and some staff members of KASCO. He allegedly distributed the money into the accounts to cover his alleged act of dishonesty.
culled from Premium Times Nigeria