Alleged fraud: Nasarawa lawmakers appeal against lower court judgment on ex-SSG

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By Taiye Agbaje
Abuja, Sept. 3, 2020 The Nasarawa State House of Assembly has urged the Court of Appeal to set aside the judgment of a lower court that voided the indictment of former Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Aliyu Tijani, over allegation of misappropriation of funds.

The request was contained in an appeal filed on behalf of the state House of Assembly and its Speaker by their Lawyer, Matthew Burkaa, before the Court of Appeal in Makurdi, Benue State.

Naija247news reports that the Nasarawa State High Court sitting in Akwanga, in its judgment, on Aug. 7, voided the indictment of Tijani by the state lawmakers in relation to his handling of N1 billion school renovation project while he served as the Commissioner for Education.

The lawmakers, during their investigations, had found among others, that N248, 848, 556.60 out of the project sum was unaccounted for.

The House of Assembly proceeded to indict him for allegedly embezzling the N248, 848, 556.60 and directed him to refund the amount.

He was subsequently sacked as the SSG by the state Governor, Abdullahi Sule.
Tijani challenged his indictment in a suit marked: NSD/LF/46/2020, which he filed before the High Court of Nasarawa State in Akwanga and prayed the court to among others, void the findings of the state assembly.

Justice Mustapha Ramat, in that judgment of Aug. 7 ruled in TIjani’s favour and granted all his reliefs, including setting aside his indictment on the grounds that he was not accorded fair hearing in the course of the House of Assembly’s investigation.

However, the House of Assembly and its speaker, in their appeal against the judgment, raised six grounds on why the decision of the lower court should be reversed.

In the appeal marked: CA/MK/135/2020, the appellants particularly faulted Justice Ramat for wrongly assuming jurisdiction over a labour related case, which he misclassified as a fundamental rights enforcement suit.

They argued that the trial judge erred in law and occasioned a grave injustice on the appellants when he assumed jurisdiction over the suit which sought to protect Tijani’s employment as the Secretary of the Government of Nasarawa State despite the provision of Section 254(C)(1) of the Constitution which vest exclusive jurisdiction on labour and employment cases on the National Industrial Court.

“The reliefs sought by the 1st respondent (Tijani) were all aimed at preventing, in the 1st respondent’s own words, the suspension, removal or sanction of the 1st respondent and ensuring the smooth, full, peaceful service of the 1st respondent as the Secretary to the State Government of Nasarawa,” they said.

They argued that the trial judge erred in law and came to a legally wrong conclusion when he held that Tijani was not accorded fair hearing by the House of Assembly.

They added that the finding by the trial court that Tijani was not afforded fair hearing was at variance with the evidence led by parties, particularly the 1st respondent (Tijani), who admitted appearing before the House of Assembly twice, on March 17 and 24 in the course of investigation.

The appellants also faulted the trial judge for granting the reliefs contained in the Tijani’s originating summons “despite the glaring contradictions in his affidavit before the court.

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