Reports of N345 million said to have gone missing from the accounts of the Kano State Sharia Court are generating outrage among people in the state with many worrying that the development may raise questions over those charged with upholding the sanctity of the Sharia legal system in the state.
The missing funds are said to belong to heirs and heiresses kept in the custody of the court before distribution to the rightful owners.
A radio station in the state had quoted the secretary to the court, Haruna Khalil, to have said the funds were discovered to have gone missing when the court attempted to withdraw part of the money when it discovered that only N9 million was in the account.
Reacting to Daily Trust enquiries, the public relations officer of the Kano State Sharia Court of Appeal, Isah Muhammad Kankarofi, told one of our reporters that the state Grand Khadi, Tijjani Yakasai, had reported the matter to the Kano State Public Complaints and Anti-Corruption Commission (PCACC).
He said after the setting up of a panel of enquiry by the court’s management, seven computers were also discovered to be missing from the court, a move, he said must be an attempt to cover the tracks of those involved.
Similarly, the acting Chairman of the PCACC, Barrister Mahmud Balarabe, has confirmed to Daily Trust that the matter has been reported to the commission.
“They are the ones that even want us to investigate the matter. They spoke with the attorney general (of the state) and the complaint was then formally forwarded to us for investigation.
“We are investigating the matter and we have even invited some of their staff (from the court) and they issued their statements and we requested some documents which they have submitted to us.
“We have equally invited staff of the bank and they are coming tomorrow (Wednesday). We are making headway,” he said.
Balarabe said so far no one has been detained because the investigation has not gotten to the stage of establishing culpability against anyone.
Meanwhile, reactions have continued to trail the development with a Kano-based legal practitioner, Ali Jami’u, saying it was disheartening that such incident is happening within the Shari’a legal system, adding that it was more painful because this is not the first time.
He said such an incident occurred in the state in 2013, which resulted in the sacking of a judge.
He added that there is the need for a strong check and balance mechanism with an effective accounting system that will ensure accountability and transparency in the management of public money.
He further stated that the issue of having a central collection system of such monies should have a prudent monitoring and evaluation system that will ensure proper management of the monies.
“It is sad to see that a place where the public has confidence is facing such a derogative development thereby quashing the confidence the public has in the legal system.
“This isn’t the first time and if care is not taken the current incident won’t be the last. There should be a prudent and effective accounting system of such monies to avert future occurrence of such unwarranted mismanagement,” he said.
Another lawyer, Abba Hikima Fagge, also said the situation is a form of corruption that has been happening in some of the courts for a long time.
“This is not new; it is known to everybody, especially those that attend courts on daily basis. But it is a shameful thing,” he added.
A resident of the state, Malam Ahmad Hamza, said the situation is so worrisome that the masses have continued to lose hope in the judicial system in the country, adding that it was more painful that it is happening in the Sharia court.
“How on earth is the court that is supposed to be where a person can run to and get justice become one of the most corrupt places? With this, I don’t think there is any hope for our judiciary system,” he lamented.
Another Kano resident, Halima Bashir, a teacher, said the development shows how far Nigerians have gone in entrenching corrupt practices.
“Honestly, Nigerians are in a mess. Our system of government is entirely corrupt. So, now the judiciary, which we had hoped in, has become something else. Every right-thinking person is worried about what would happen to these heirs,” she said.
Malam Idris Habibu Ma’aji, a human rights activist, said the incident is an insult to the Shari’a legal system, adding that if it is not quickly nipped in the bud, it will discredit the Islamic legal system which the people of the state hold with high regard.
“It is sad that this is happening at Shari’a courts where public confidence is so high and people respect the system with no reservations. The most annoying thing is that it isn’t the first time.
“The only way out is through ensuring that those found guilty are properly prosecuted to serve as a deterrent to others,” Ma’aji said.
He said the fact that this is not the first time shows that drastic measures were not taken in the past to serve as a deterrent.
He urged that all those found guilty in the current incident be made to face the full wrath of the law.