Ahmad Yerima, a former governor of Zamfara State, was on Tuesday, December 6, 2017 discharged by a High Court in Gusau.
It will be recalled that Yerima was in January 2016 charged before Justice Bello Shinkafi of High Court 4, in Gusau, the state capital, by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC).
The commission accused him of diverting part of N1 billion project funds for other purposes.
The fund was meant for the repair of the collapsed Gusau Dam and the resettlement of the victims displaced by flood waters.
The money was obtained through a bank loan after it was approved by the State House of Assembly as additional budgetary allocation.
Yerima, now a senator, was, among others, charged with embarking on N385.5 million extra budgetary spending.
The offences were committed mainly in October and November 2006.
The former governor was said to have spent the sum of N20 million purportedly on assistance to INEC; N10 million purportedly on donations; N43 million on surveillance of guests; N21 million on settlements.
Others are N64 million on sponsorship of government officials on Hajj; N32 million on settlement of accommodation; N15 million on furniture allowance; N29 million on purchase of 2000 Nanfang motorcycles; sum of N23 million on payment to an automobile company; N14 million on payment of auditing of account and N14 million on Ramadan Feeding.
It said that the offence contravenes Section 22 (5) of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act 2000.
“Yerima on or about May 2007 used his position as governor to confer corrupt advantage upon himself by awarding consultancy services to his company, Development Management System Ltd, for the supply of 50,000 metric tons (200,000 bags) of grains by Zamfara State Government to the Federal Government.
The contract included an agreement to pay 10 % i.e. N161million of the total cost of N1.6 billion to Development Management Ltd as consultancy fee but for which only 9,181.89 metric tons (91, 818 bags) were supplied.
It said the former governor paid Development Management Ltd N91, 840,000 whereas it was entitled only to N29, 565,685.80.
It added that the company was overpaid by N62, 274,315 and thereby committed an offence punishable under section 19 of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2000.
However, Justice Bello Muhammad Tukur today dismissed the 19-count-charge of corruption levelled against Senator Yerima after the counsel of the 1st defendant (Yerima) Barrister Ifeanyi Augustine Azuamah made a no-case submission to the court.
The lawyer to the defendant said his client had never conferred an unfair advantage to himself or friends in whatever form therefore they expected a justice in the case.
He added that the ruling is a true reflection of what the law is.
“Every crime has essential ingredients to make it a crime, however, where one or more of those ingredients are absent after revealing the evidence by the prosecution, the law provides that there is no need for the defendant to enter in to defence because of the presumption of innocence guaranteed by the constitution,” he said.
“In light of that we have shown the court, the wants in the evidence by the complainant and we have convinced the court that there is no need to proceed the case against the defendant and as such the court should discharge him,” Barrister Azuamah further said.
In his reaction, Yerima expressed joy over the ruling saying that he had been vindicated because he had not done anything illegal.
Read more at Daily Trust.