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Land Grab: Court orders El-Rufai’s aide to appear or face arrest

The Special Adviser to Kaduna Governor, Malam Nasir El-Rufai on political matters, Malam Uba Sani, was Tuesday ordered by a Kaduna Magistrates’ Court to appear before it in three weeks over alleged land grabbing or face arrest.

Sani, who was supposed to appear physically in court Tuesday for preliminary objection was dragged to court by members of Gidan Daji community for inflicting injury, wreaking havoc and trying to forcefully demolish the houses under claims that he had acquired the land.

In the 15-count charge brought before Justice Awalu Musa Aliyu by Malame Legal Consult, on behalf of Gidan Daji community against the defendant, members of the community accused Sani of sending seven trucks of combined armed policemen and Kaduna State officials to invade the community, a suburb of Kaduna.

The case against Sani generated furore between counsel to the plaintiffs, Barrister Henry Obimba of Malame Legal Consult and the lawyer to the defendant, Bar. Abubakar Haruna.

While, Obimba demanded that a warrant of arrest be issued against Sani for refusing to appear to answer criminal charges brought against him, Haruna said that his client had written a preliminary objection challenging the jurisdiction of the court to put him on trail.

He said, with the preliminary objection served both the court and the plaintiffs’ counsel, that section 153 of the Criminal Procedure Code of Kaduna State permits Sani to stay out of court until the matter was disposed of.

He also told the court that his client was abroad on official engagement, even though he was aware of the case brought against him.

Obimba however argued that based on section 153 (2) of the same code, it was at the discretion of the court to decide if the defendant should be produced in court or not.

The court agreed with Obimba.

Justice Aliyu then ruled that: “I want to give the defendant benefit of the doubt because I know that politicians travel a lot. But, I want to warn that his official assignment should not make him permanently absent in court. He must appear in court in the next sitting.

“Section 154 (2) (a) does not permit him to be absent in court. Based on section 36 (1) of the 1999 Constitution.

“The court has, however, set aside the verbal application for a warrant of arrest on the defendant, due to his engagements.

“I hereby order that he must appear in Court in person on the 18th of February, 2016.”

Fielding questions from journalists after the court session, Obimba, who is the counsel to members of the aggrieved community, said part of the case against Sani include: “That the accused person boasted to use any means to divest the complainants of their lands for his personal use.

“That the complainants are living in the community in fear not knowing what would be the next line of action by the accused person.”

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