Guilty as charged? EFCC counters Bauchi Gov’s Son No-Case submission

EFCC counters no-case submission

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), has asked Justice Nnamdi Dimgba of Federal High Court sitting in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja to discountenance the no-case submission filed by a son of the incumbent governor of Bauchi State, Senator Bala Muhammed, Shamsudeen Bala (alias Shamsudeen Mohammed Bala), and order him (and others) standing before court to enter their defense.

The anti-graft body, through its counsel, Wahab Shittu of W. K. Shittu & Co in its reply to the No Case Submission filed by Shamsudeen Bala and Bird Trust Agro Allied Limited (first and second defendants, respectively) agrees with counsel to defendants that the nature of prosecution’s case against the defendants is ‘essentially triple-pronged namely that the allegation of making cash payments above thresholds which covers Counts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 6,7,8, 9,10 and 20; and that the allegation of non-declaration of bank accounts numbers before the EFCC, which covers Counts 11, 12, 12 (sic) 13, 14 and 15. The prosecution also agrees that the new set of charges alleging forgery and possession of forged documents covers Counts 16, 17, 18, and 19.

The EFCC further states that it adduced oral and documentary evidence in support of the triple-pronged case presented by the prosecution. On the allegation of making cash payments above thresholds, it said that it adduced evidence by exhibits SB12 (1 -10); SB 56(1 – 3); SB 55 (1 – 3). On allegation of non-declaration of bank accounts, the prosecution claimed it adduced evidence by exhibits SB25 (1 – 2) SB 25 (1 – 2) SB 26; SB 27; SB 28; SB 29; SB 30; SB 31; SB 32; SB 33 (1 – 2); SB 34 (1 – 52; SB35 (1 – 46; SB 36 (1 – 7); SB 38(1 – 8; SB 39(1 – 6); SB 40(1 – 4); SB 41(1 – 28); SB 42(1 – 46); SB 43(1 – 37) reflecting proof of 1st defendant’s various accounts in Standard Chartered Bank and proof of transactions on the accounts.

The EFCC further pointed out that it is not the duty of the court, where a no-case submission has been made, to know whether the evidence produced by the prosecution against the accused is sufficient to justify the conviction. But rather it should be interested in whether the prosecution has made out a prima facie case requiring, at least, some explanation from the accused person as regards his conduct or otherwise. “In essence, the court is not called upon at this stage to express any opinion on the evidence before it. The court is only called upon to take note and rule accordingly whether there is before the court no legally admissible evidence linking the accused person with the commission of the offense charged. But if there is legally admissible evidence, however slight, the matter should proceed as there is something to answer to by the accused persons. This, therefore, means that the question to answer when it comes to no case submission is: Whether the prosecution has provided a prima facie case against the accused?”

Similarly, the EFCC countered the submissions of third, fourth, and fifth defendants namely Intertrans Global Logistics Ltd, Diakin Telecommunications Ltd, and Bal-Vac Mining Nig. Ltd, respectively, asking the court to hold that they have a case to answer.

It will be recalled that Justice Dimgba had fixed Wednesday 26th April 2021 for the adoption of submission following their application. However, the court could not sit due to the ongoing industrial action by members of the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN).

Shamsudeen Bala Muhammed had earlier told the court that he has no case to answer in the 20 count charges bordering on money laundering. Speaking through his counsel, Chris Uche (SAN), he told the court that the evidence of the prosecution against him was insufficient to warrant a conviction.

“My Lord, this matter was adjourned for defence, the prosecution having closed its case during the last adjournment. Having comprehensively reviewed the totality of all the evidence of witnesses called by the prosecution, we have decided to make a no-case submission.

“We seek the leave of the court to file a no-case submission and serve same on the prosecution and for us to, if possible, adopt same on the adjourned date”, he said.

It will be recalled that Shamsudeen and other defendants were on 30th May 2017 re-arraigned by EFCC on a 20 count charge connected to money laundering. The defendants who were initially docked before the count on 1st February 2017, took a fresh plea before Justice Dimgba. The EFCC alleged that the other defendants in the suit were companies used to launder over N1.1billion.

The anti-graft body alleged that in a bid to conceal stolen funds at his disposal resorted to the acquisition of houses within the highbrow areas in Abuja. It told the court that Shamsudeen paid cash for five plots of land and four other properties in Abuja.

Some of the assets traced to him include five plots of land at Asokoro Gardens, House FS 2 B, Green Acre Estate, Apo Dutse, Abuja; House FS 1A, Green Acre Estate, Apo-Dutse; FS 1B, Green Acre Estate, Apo-Dutse, Abuja and House 2A, No 7, Gana Street, Maitama, Abuja.

According to EFCC, Shamsudeen, whose father, Bala Muhammed, is equally facing a six-count charge before an Abuja High Court, paid for the assets in excess of the statutory limit, without recourse to any financial institution. Aside allegation that he failed to declare his assets when he completed the EFCC Asset Declaration Form A, Shamsudeen was further accused of concealing four accounts he operated with Standard Chartered Bank.