The attention of Patriots for the Advancement of Peace and Social Development (PAPSD) has been drawn to the fictitious news making the rounds on social media and some online news blogs that “Court dismisses EFCC’s N900bn fraud charges against ex-Gov Yari.” This news is fake, both in the headline and in content. It is an absurd misrepresentation of what transpired in the Federal High Court Abuja, today February 4, 2021.
It has therefore become imperative for PAPSD to clarify, for the reading public what actually transpired in Court. This is to prevent the gullible and uninformed from being misled by a piece of junk journalism.
Firstly, EFCC has no pending N900 billion fraud charge against ex-Gov Yari before Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court, Abuja. Instead, it was Patriots for the Advancement of Peace and Social Development (PAPSD) a non-governmental organization and its Executive Director Alhaji (Dr.) Sani A. Shinkafi, who approached the Federal High Court since July 21, 2020 with an ex-parte Application for Leave to apply for an Order of Mandamus. It was a public interest suit in which the Applicants sought LEAVE to apply for an ORDER OF MANDAMUS to compel EFCC to investigate the Petitions of the Applicants against ex-Gov Yari, Top Government Functionaries, individuals and Private Companies for alleged Misappropriation of State Funds, Abuse of Office and Conversion of Public Funds and Resources belonging to Zamfara State, up to the sum of over N900billion for Personal Enrichment.
The ex-parte Application for Leave was moved before Justice Abang of the Federal High Court Abuja on December 7, 2020. It was adjourned to December 18, 2020 for ruling and subsequently to February 4, 2021. Delivering its ruling today, the Court on its own raised the issue of the Application for Mandamus being statute barred. According to the Court, the Application was filed more than 3 months from the dates of the 3 documents exhibited in the Application, i.e.: Report of Zamfara State Project Verification Committee set up by the Executive Governor of Zamfara State Hon. Bello Muhammed (Matawallen Maradun) MON, dated February 2020; Report of Zamfara State Local Government Projects Verification Committee, dated January 2020; and 2019 Transition Committee Report dated July 2019.
It must be pointed out that the 3 Government Reports listed above were not the basis of the Application for Mandamus. The foundation of the Application for Mandamus was EFCC’s failure to investigate 15 Petitions it received from Patriots for the Advancement of Peace and Social Development (PAPSD) and its Executive Director Alhaji (Dr.) Sani A. Shinkafi. The 3 Government Reports were exhibited in the Application to lend credence to the allegations contained in the uninvestigated Petitions of the Applicants to EFCC.
Unfortunately, the Federal High Court Abuja, presided over by Justice Okon Abang, relied on the dates of these 3 Government Reports in calculating the 3 months period required to file an Application for Mandamus, under Order 34 Rule 4 of the Federal High Court Rules. The Court did not look at the dates of the Petitions of the Applicants which was the subject matter of the Mandamus. Had the Court looked at the Petitions of the Applicants, the Court would have seen that the last Petition to EFCC is dated July 8, 2020 and was received by the Commission on July 9, 2020. Two weeks later, the suit was filed on July 21, 2020.
In the same vein, had the Court given our Counsel the opportunity to address it on the issue of 3 months limitation of time it raised suo motu, the attention of the Court would have been drawn to the last Petition of the Applicants dated July 8, 2020; duly exhibited in the Application for Leave.
In an unprecedented manner, the Court dismissed the Application for Leave, stating that it was filed more than 3 months after the cause of action arose.
In a nutshell, above is what transpired before the Federal High Court Abuja today. We have already directed our Counsel, Ifeanyi Mbaeri, Esq. to take steps immediately to appeal against this strange ruling to the Court of Appeal. The allegations in our uninvestigated Petitions to EFCC against ex-Gov Yari for unprecedented theft of public funds belonging to Zamfara State, cannot be summarily dismissed or swept away by today’s strange ruling by Honourable Justice Abang. Interestingly, recent media reports on attempt to move N300 billion in a commercial bank by Yari, has further lent credence to the monumental theft of public funds in Zamfara State under the ill-fated maladministration of Yari.
Alhaji (Dr.) Sani Abdullahi Shinfaki
Executive Director, Patriots for the Advancement of Peace and Social Development (PAPSD)