Police fired shots in the air yesterday in Kaduna to disperse protesters who attempted to prevent the movement of a former governor to prison after the court ordered him to be remanded.
Former Kaduna State Governor Ramallan Yero and three others were taken before a Federal High Court in Kaduna by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commissionn (EFCC) on a four-cout charge of laundering about N700 million.
In court along with Yero were former Kaduna State People’s Democratic Party (PDP) Chairman Abubakar Gaiya Haruna; one-time Minister of State for Power Nuhu Wya and former Secretary to the State Government Hamza Ishaq.
Justice Mohammed Shuaibu ordered the accused to be remanded in prison till June 6 when their bail application will be heard.
Conveying the former governor and others to the prison three hours later, became a herculean task, as supporters of the ex-governor who had thronged the court premises as early as 8am, started stoning prison officials.
The protesters gathered from around 8:00am at the court premises, bearing placards with various inscriptions, such as “Yero is not a thief; and “2019: Sai Yero” among others.
Gunshots were fired into the air to disperse the protesters.
EFCC counsel Joshua Saidi told reporters after the proceedings: “We just arraigned the defendants for money laundering, conspiracy and criminal diversion of pubic fund. They pleaded not guilty and were remanded in prison custody for further consideration of their bail applications on June 6.
He added: “We are satisfied with the court position it is the discretion of my lord to either grant oral application or formal appolication and my lord is of the opinion that it is better they file a formal application.”
Counsel to the defendants Yunus Ustaz Usman (SAN) said: “The court has absolute discretion to say ‘bring application to me formally or orally’.”
On whether he is satisfied with the court’s decision, Usman said “I am, because the judge has not denied them bail. What he was saying is that he wanted written application.”
He said his clients were sent to prison and not the EFCC custody because the “EFCC said they don’t have the facility to keep them”.
“So why should I be disappointed. When I was a students’ union leader, I was always a prisoner.” Usman said.