A Court of Appeal sitting in Kano State has set aside the judgment of the Federal High Court which earlier discharged and acquitted a Kano State governorship aspirant, Alhaji Abdulsalam Zaura.
Zaura is among the strong contenders for the 2023 gubernatorial election to succeed Governor Abdullahi Ganduje.
It will be recalled that sometime in 2020, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) dragged Zaura, an international businessman, before Justice Lewis Allagoa on five counts bordering on fraud.
It will also be recalled that EFCC accused Zaura of defrauding a Kuwaiti national of $1.32 million under the pretext of building properties for them in Dubai, Kuwait and other Arab countries.
However, on June 9, 2020, Justice Allagoa, who had found Zaura not guilty of all the counts, dismissed the EFCC argument and discharged the defendant.
Having dissatisfied with the lower court’s judgment, the prosecution approached the appellate court for an overturn of Allagoa’s verdict.
EFCC counsel, Musa Isah, had filed the appeal on behalf of the appellant.
In a unanimous decision by its three-man panel, delivered by Justice Abdullahi Bayero, the Court of Appeal granted the prayers of the EFCC and dismissed the judgment of the Federal High Court.
The court then ordered that the defendant be tried afresh by a different judge other than Allagoa.
The appellate court ruled that the accused person was absent when Allagoa delivered his judgment, against the rule of the Supreme Court which mandated the presence of an accused person in court throughout his trial including judgment.
Having determined the issue in favour of the appellant, the judgment of the lower court in suit number FHCK/CR2018/ FRN against Abdulsalam Abdulkarim on June 9, 2020, was not only set aside but would be returned to a new judge for a fresh trial.