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Suspended Accountant General Ahmed Idris seeks plea bargain – EFCC

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Nasiru Yusuf 

A High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) heard on Wednesday that suspended Accountant General of the Federation (AGF), Ahmed Idris and three others have reached out to the Economic and Financial Crimes (EFCC) with a plea-bargain proposal in relation to their trial for alleged N109billion fraud.

KANO FOCUS reports that Idris, his Technical Assistant, Godfrey Olusegun Akindele; a director in the office of the AG-F, Mohammed Kudu Usman and a firm linked with Idris –  Gezawa Commodity Market and Exchange Limited – were arraigned on July 22 on a 14-count charge bordering on money laundering, stealing and criminal breach of trust.

Lead prosecuting lawyer, Rotimi Jacobs (SAN) said Idris reached out to him through a third party for a meeting to work on ways to achieve a plea bargain arrangement as a way out.

Jacobs added that since Section 270 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) provides for plea bargain, he agreed to meet with the defendants at an office of the EFCC, but on the condition that their lawyers and EFCC’s investigators (who  handled the case) must be in attendance.

He said the meeting planned for the previous day (Tuesday) failed to hold because the defendants came without their lawyers.

Jacobs added that a lawyer from the first defendant’s (Idris’) legal team, who he identified as Kanayo, later came to where they were to meet to complain that they (the defendants’ lawyers) were not carried along.

“The first defendant sent a third party to me that he wanted a plea bargaining meeting and he wanted to meet me. That was  (Tuesday) in the morning. And I replied that I can not meet the defendants in the absence of their counsel.

“I added that by the nature of our calling, we must be opened and transparent. Section 270 of ACJA allows plea bargain. I told them to come with their lawyer and let us meet at the EFCC office and that I will also invite the investigators to be at the meeting.

“Kanayo, one of the counsel in the legal team of the first defendant, came to meet me at the EFCC office in Wuse 2 and protested that they were not carried along and that his clients would not come for the meeting.

“I spoke with Chief Chris Uche, SAN (who heads the first defendan’s legal team) for about 30 minutes to let him know that we (the EFCC) did not invite them and that the planned meeting was at their instance.

“None of the defendant entered EFCC’s office. So, they did not attend any meeting at the EFCC office,” Jacobs said.

The prosecuting lawyer spoke in response to complaints by lawyers to the defendants, who claimed that the EFCC invited their clients the previous day and prevented them from meeting with the defendants, who they further claimed were at the office of the EFCC for the better part of the day.

Lawyer to Idris and Gezawa (1st and 4th defendants), Gordy Uche (SAN), at the commencement of proceedings, objected to an application by Jacobs to tender some statements made by the first defendant.

Uche argued that Jacobs should not be allowed to tender  the statements because he (Uche) was yet to interview his client in relation to the documents.

He said: “I was to interview the first defendant on Tuesday, but I learnt he was in the office of the EFCC. We were, as counsel, not carried along.”

Uche argued that it was disrespectful of the court for the EFCC to invite the defendants without their lawyers’ knowledge when the case had already been charged to court.

He contended that the EFCC was expected to have concluded it’s investigation before charging the defendants to court.

Uche denied that his clients proposed plea bargain to the prosecution as claimed by Jacobs.

He said the standard practice was for the lawyer to a defendant to initiate such arrangement, not for such move to be made behind the lawyer to the defendant.

Uche prayed the court for adjournment to enable him confer with the first defendant .

Lawyers to Akindele and Usman (2nd and 3rd defendants) – Peter Abalaka and Ibrahim Isiyaku (SAN), who said they shared Uche’s position, also prayed for an adjournment to enable them confer with their clients.

Although Jacobs objected to the defence’s prayer for adjournment, Justice Jadesola Adeyemi-Ajayi acceded to the defendants’ request and  adjourn further hearing till October 4 this year.

Earlier, the judge ordered the revocation of the bail granted to Usman when, at the mention of the case, he was not in court, forcing the judge to suspend proceedings.

Later, before the day’s proceeding ends, his lawyer applied orally that the bail be restored, stating that his client, though arrived the court late, was held back by traffic.

Isiyaku claimed that a truck fell on along the Airport Road, which occasioned heavy traffic and prevented his client from arriving court early.

Ruling, Justice Adeyemi-Ajayi granted Isiyaku’s application and restored Usman’s bail.

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How KaLMA boost learning outcomes in Kano state

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Students in classroom

Nasiru Yusuf Ibrahim

The Kano Maths and Literacy Accelerator (KaLMA) has boosted learning outcomes in 181 schools across Wudil and Dawakin Tofa local government areas.

KANO FOCUS reports that between January and August 2021, when in-person teaching resumed, the number of primary school children with foundational skills in Hausa and maths grew by 18 per cent, and in English by 11 per cent.

The programme’s impact on lower-level skills was even more significant, rising by 37 per cent in Hausa, 36 per cent in maths, and 39 per cent in English.

Students in classroom

The programme has already reached over 37,000 children and 1,200 teachers. Plans are now in place to extend its impact to 450 schools and 3,000 more teachers in five other government areas of Kano.

Some of the parents said they are impressed with the way they see children from KaLMA implementation schools doing KaLMA activities at home and in the communities.’

They revealed that “Children were not reading in our schools, but they are doing so now in schools with the coming of KaLMA.”

Teacher in classroom

KaLMA is supporting children in Kano state, to build the foundational and language skills they need to succeed.

Funded by the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, KaLMA is a partnership between the British Council, Kano State Universal Basic Education Board, the Ministry of Education, Sa’adatu Rimi College of Education, and Teaching at the Right Level Africa.

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How gender stereotyping hampers girl child education in Jemagu town

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Nasiru Yusuf Ibrahim

 

The trauma of not being able to get husbands after higher education has continued to discourage many parents in Jemagu from sending their girls to school, most especially as their boys hardly go beyond secondary school.

KANO FOCUS reports that in Jemagu town Warawa Local Government Area of Kano State, girls hardly go beyond secondary school because they would find it very difficult to marry as their men don’t usually go for those who go beyond that level.

Men in Jemagu believe that girls who go beyond secondary school would have experienced some social life that would make them very difficult to control. Residents said their children’s education, especially the girls, began and ended in Jemagu primary and secondary schools.

Babangida Adamu is among the men in Jemagu who believe that it is not proper to marry a girl who has gone beyond secondary school. He added that girls who acquire higher education would not like to marry men who have no formal education.

Babangida Adamu

“The truth is that any woman who acquired higher education would not like to marry a man with lower education. I will also not marry a girl who has university degree because I do not have a degree. This is why most men will not like to marry girls with higher education,” Adamu said.

A 25-year-old Khadija Muhammad Jemagu, who recently obtained a diploma in Marketing from the Kano State Polytechnic but does not have government job or husband, said she had resorted to helping a non-governmental organisation to promote girl-child education in her community. She believes there is the need to intensify awareness among parents on the importance of girl-child education.

According to Khadija, many people have told her that since she has chosen western education, it would be difficult for any man in her village to come close to her because the men believe that she is wiser than any man that may be willing to marry her since most of them do not have more than secondary education.

“Even before I finished my diploma, many people would go about saying that since my father had chosen to send us to school, they would see who would come and marry us. And for several years I have been living like this because in this our village, no man has ever come to me with marriage proposal, simply because I have a diploma,” she said.

Jemagu primary school

But despite this belief in Jemagu, some girls like Hussaina Muhammad are still trying to obtain a certificate on education, but there is no man within the community willing to marry her at the moment. She, however, insists that her educational ambition is a priority.

But Hussaina believes she can still get a husband within or outside her community provided she becomes well educated. She vowed that insult and discrimination from men within her village would not discourage her ambition.

“After secondary school, I started my National Certificate in Education (NCE) programme here in Warawa, but you know the belief our people. They see us as prostitutes; therefore, no one will come to offer his hand in marriage to us. But I will not be discouraged because I believe that whenever it is time for me to marry, God will definitely bring a husband for me,” she said.

Zainab Makera was able to get married after secondary school. She wants to proceed but is faced with a difficult choice – to further her education or stay with her husband. She said she had been trying to convince her husband to allow her continue but she was told that if she really wanted to continue with her education, she had to get divorced.

Zainab Makera

Meanwhile, few women who were able to convince their husbands to allow them proceed beyond secondary school “are constantly being rejected by community members,” said Hussaina.

According to education authorities in Warawa Local Government, this belief is not the only problem affecting girl-child education in Jemagu.

Lack of commitment by parents, especially mothers, may have worsened the situation over the years.

“There are several reasons why girls don’t go to school frequently; few of them have to do with the attitude of their parents, especially women who often sent their female children for hawking and other domestic works that stop them from attending classes,” said Munnir Muhammad, an education secretary in Warawa.

On the issue of girls not being able to get husbands after attending higher institution at Jemagu, Munnir believes that the problem is not only in Jemagu or Warawa Local Government.

“It is a general societal problem in northern Nigeria, where men, especially those with formal education usually reject women with higher education. Additionally, the government is working with parents-teachers associations, mothers associations and other relevant stakeholders to improve girl-child education in Warawa Local Government.”

Jemagu town, Warawa local government area

Meanwhile, residents said apart from poverty among the local community, lack of awareness by government authorities and poor education infrastructure, the problem of water supply in Jemagu village is forcing many children, especially girls, to skip school because they have to travel long distance to fetch water for the house. But government authorities assured that the problem of water supply in this village would soon be a thing of the past.

While recognising the threat of rejecting girls beyond secondary school as a major problem affecting girl-child education in the area, the caretaker chairman of Warawa Local Government, Lamido Sanusi, acknowledged that the problem of water is another major issue at Jemagu village. He said their ambition was to ensure that every girl-child is educated from primary school to university level without any form of discrimination across all villages and towns of Warawa Local Government.

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Hajj 2024: Kano asks NAHCON to reverse BTA issuance via card

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Nasiru Yusuf Ibrahim

 

The Director General of Kano State Pilgrims Welfare Board, Alhaji Lamin Rabi’u Danbappa has described as unjustified, the decision of National Hajj Commission of Nigeria, NAHCON, to pay part of the Basic Travel Allowance, BTA, for this year’s Hajj via payment card.

KANO FOCUS reports that the DG made the call at a meeting to discuss the issue pertaining the BTA at he board’s headquarters on Thursday.

It will be recalled that NAHCON had issues a directive to state pilgrims boards pilgrims to pay $200 BTA in cash, while the remaining $300 will be accessible by the pilgrims via card in Saudi Arabia.

In a statement by the board’s spokesman, Suleman Abdullahi Dederi, Danbappa pointed out that “many pilgrims come from rural areas and may not be familiar with using cards to access their funds in Saudi Arabia.”

Danbappa therefore called on the NAHCON to reconsider this decision, noting that “it imposes additional hardships on the pilgrims, who are already facing challenges due to the high Hajj fare this year.

“The Director General emphasized that requiring pilgrims to use cards in Saudi Arabia could lead to numerous problems during the Hajj exercises.

“He stressed that the BTA is intended to assist pilgrims and should not be a cause of confusion or difficulty,” the statement reads in part.

He urged the relevant authorities to ensure that the BTA is provided in a manner that genuinely assists the pilgrims, without complicating their experience.

The statement added that the Chairman Board of Directors of the Kano State Pilgrims Welfare Board, Alhaji Yusuf Lawan, led the meeting to discuss the issue pertaining to the BTA.

Lawan stated that the board had recently received a directive from the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria regarding the BTA process.

According to the directive, pilgrims will receive only $200 in cash, while the remaining $300 will be accessible via card in Saudi Arabia.

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