N22bln Fraud: Arraignment of Buhari’s Dismissed Power Minister Stalled

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Due to his alleged poor health, a Federal High Court in Abuja adjourned the scheduled arraignment of Mr. Saleh Mamman, the former Power Minister during President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration, on Thursday.

Mamman, who was expected to enter his plea, fainted outside the courtroom before the case was called.

Persecondnews recalls that on September 1, 2021, Buhari reshuffled his cabinet, resulting in the dismissal of both Mamman and Mr. Sabo Nanono, the then Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development.

The former minister’s counsel, Mr. Femi Ate (SAN), told Justice James Omotosho shortly after the case was called for Mamman to take his plea.

When the hearing resumed, Mamman entered the courtroom and stepped into the dock with part of his clothes drenched.

Justice Omotosho then asked why Mamman was sweating and whether it was raining outside.

Speaking from the dock, Mamman revealed that someone had poured water on him, presumably to try to revive him after he fainted outside the courtroom.

Mr. Adeyinka Olumide-Fusika (SAN), the EFCC’s counsel, informed the judge that despite the case’s scheduled arraignment of Mamman, an unexpected incident occurred outside the courtroom.

Olumide-Fusika said he had a brief conversation with the defence counsel outside the courtroom regarding Mamman’s health issues.

He said: “I was informed of an incident outside. I will want my senior advocate to tell the honourable court himself.”

Ate also told the court: “Mamman, upon being brought into the premises of the court, collapsed and had to be resusitated and treated by the medical personnel of the Federal High Court.”

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According to him, the ex-minister was served the charge after he was resuscitated.

“He was served this morning.”

Ate asked the EFCC’s counsel, Olumide-Fusika, to understand and agree to the rescheduling of the arraignment for Monday, when Mamman would have recovered from his health issues.

The judge stated that, given the heavy caseload and congested dockets in court, the earliest possible date for the arraignment would be towards the end of September.

Ate then withdrew the oral application for an adjournment.

Ruling, Justice Omotosho disagreed with Olumide-Fusika when he announced that he had just filed an amended charge that morning, correcting an error in the defendant’s name, and asked the court to read the revised charge to Mamman so he could enter his plea.

The judge, however, asked Mamman if he was fit enough to take his plea today, and he responded affirmatively.

The former minister told the court that he had taken medication on an empty stomach, which caused him to faint outside the courtroom.

He stated that his blood pressure abruptly dropped as he waited to enter the courtroom.

Mamman, however, said he was fit to continue with the arraignment.

“It can happen to anyone,” the judge said.

The ex-minister informed the court that he had brought to his lawyer’s attention an error in the charge sheet served on him by the EFCC.

He said: “I was complaining about the name, that it was not my own.”

Justice Omotosho then stepped down the arraignment until 1 p.m. today.

Persecondnews recalls that the EFCC had filed a 12-count charge against Mamman, accusing him of money laundering offences totaling N33 billion.

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According to allegations, the former minister, who held the position under Buhari’s administration from 2019 to 2021, committed financial crimes totaling billions of naira.

On May 10, 2021, the EFCC took him into custody and held him at the agency’s headquarters in Abuja.

He allegedly conspired with ministry employees in charge of the accounts for the Zungeru and Mambilla Hydro Electric Power projects to embezzle about N22 billion.

The investigation uncovered assets allegedly linked to the suspects in Nigeria and abroad, and it reportedly resulted in the seizure of significant sums of money in both naira and dollars.

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