By Ikechukwu Nnochiri - Abuja
A mild drama played out before a High Court of the Federal Capital Territory sitting at Maitama, on Thursday, as the Federal Government, arraigned a man named Mohammed Buhari over his alleged complicity in N7.5million Abuja land fraud.
Trial Justice Yusuf Halilu remanded the Defendant in Suleja prison after he pleaded not guilty to a one-count charge FG preferred against him.
Remarkably, Buhari's remand by the court followed an application that was made by a government lawyer, Aisha Ibrahim.
Aisha urged the court to keep the Defendant in the custody of the Nigerian Correctional Service, NCS, pending the hearing and determination of his request for bail.
Justice Halilu had immediately the case was called up, jokingly inquired if it was President Muhammadu Buhari.
"I hope it is not President Muhammadu Buhari that you are planning to arraign before me today", the judge remarked as a thunderous roar of laughter erupted in the courtroom.
"My lord will even be surprised to know that the name of the prosecution counsel in this matter is Aisha", the lead defence counsel replied.
Meanwhile, FG, in the charge dated June 15, alleged that Buhari had on or about November 5, 2018, by false pretence, collected N7.5m from someone, pretending that he was the owner of a parcel of land situated at Sabon Lugbe in Abuja.
The Prosecution told the court that Defendant received payment for the land through his Zenith bank account No. 0144380537.
He was said to have by his action, committed an offence contrary to section 1(1) (a) of the Advanced Fee Fraud and other Fraud Related Offences Act, 2006, and punishable under section 1(3) of the same Act.
After Defendant pleaded his innocence to the charge, his lawyer, Mr. Chukwudi Poli, prayed the court to hear his bail application which he said was filed shorty before the arraignment.
Poli anchored his prayer on the fact that the court would soon embark on its annual vacation.
"This is why I am begging the court", Poli submitted just before the trial Judge interjected and ordered him to sit down.
"Counsel please sit down! This is not a court for begging", Justice Halilu ordered him.
Aisha took the floor and told the court that she would need time to respond to the Defendant's bail application which she said was not ripe for hearing.
"My Lord, I have gone through the bail application. There will be need for us to respond to it. We will need to look into some facts deposed to in the application and respond accordingly", Aisha insisted.
Consequently, Justice Halilu adjourned the matter till October 4 after he ordered the remand of the Defendant in prison custody.