A Federal High Court in Abuja on Tuesday discharged and acquitted Bauchi State Governor, Bala Mohammed’s son, Shamsudeen, of the N1.1 billion fraud charges against him.
Shamsudeen was arraigned on February 1, 2017 on a 20-count charge bordering on money laundering.
In a ruling earlier delivered on December 14, 2021 on a no-case submission, Justice Nnamdi Dimgba upheld Shamsudeen’s submission in part by dismissing 11 out of the 20 charges filed against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
He was left to defend himself for his failure to declare some of his bank accounts and the amount in them to the EFCC, identity fraud, and forgery.
But delivering judgment on Tuesday, Justice Dimgba held that the EFCC failed to prove the allegations beyond reasonable doubt.
On the allegations that the defendant forged signatures and documents to access illegal funds, the judge said the anti-graft agency’s forensic expert did not provide sufficient evidence to prove the charge.
“The law is settled that in a charge of forgery, it is essential to prove that the accused person forged the document in question.
“An allegation that a document is forged is a criminal allegation that must be proved beyond reasonable doubt and not by speculation,” he said.
The judge held that the burden of proof rested on the prosecution, adding that it did not discharge the burden beyond reasonable doubt.
“The question, therefore, is on a holistic consideration of the evidence led by the prosecution, can it be said that there is evidence sufficient to lead the court to the conclusion that the defendant is guilty of the offence contained in the surviving counts 11 to 19?
“Looking at the case being made out as a whole in the light of the entirety of the evidence adduced on both sides, it appears to me that there are very reasonable doubts thrown up in the case.
“This will make it very difficult for any reasonable tribunal to proceed to find the defendant guilty of the charge in counts 11 to 19 on the strength of the evidence available.
“In the final analysis, having reviewed all that has been provided, I am not convinced that the prosecution has discharged the burden placed on them by law to prove the guilt of the defendant beyond reasonable doubt on any of the remaining 9 counts of the charge,” said the judge.
The judge also ordered the prosecution to refund Mohammed’s son N580,000 and $60,000 as well as other items taken from his apartment in the course of executing the search warrant on his apartment.
The EFCC had alleged that Shamsudeen made payments of huge sums in cash for the purchase of properties in different parts of Abuja without going through a financial institution.
Mohammed was himself facing corruption charges in a different case until he gained immunity after he was elected Governor of Bauchi State in May 2019.