NAB given 12-day remand of Jang Group editor-in-chief in fake case

Jang Geo Media Group CEO says NAB not interested in listening to his answers

Web Desk

Jang Geo Media Group Editor-in-Chief Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman. — Geo News screengrab

LAHORE: An accountability court on Friday gave a 12-day physical remand of Jang Geo Media Group's Editor-in-Chief Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman (MSR) to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) in relation to the alleged illegal purchase of property more than 34 years ago.

The Jang Group chairman was brought to the accountability court under heavy security. A large contingent of police and other security officials was present also outside the courtroom.

During the hearing, MSR's lawyer, Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan, questioned why his client had not been shown his arrest warrants.

Ahsan told the court that NAB had not issued any notice to MSR and that the Bureau did not hold the authority to make an arrest in the case without concrete evidence.

"The NAB chief signed off on the arrest warrants of [MSR]. We have still not been provided with a copy of those warrants," Ahsan reminded the courtroom. 

He said that arresting MSR in a matter dating back decades "proves the mala fide intentions of the bureau".

"The property in question was brought by [MSR] from a third-party and the LDA was not involved," Ahsan said, dismissing all allegations to the contrary.

"My client did not commit any wrongdoing in the purchase of the property. He was only arrested because his name is Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman," Ahsan argued. 

"Some people do not tire of speaking against my client. The legal procedures were not even completed before my client was arrested in the case. This proves the mala fide intentions of the bureau," he reiterated.

"Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman was summoned by NAB on February 28, and he appeared before it. He was asked to appear again on March 12, and he did so again. How did he break the law in any way?" Ahsan asked.

"On March 12, NAB did not listen to the answers my client had provided in response to an earlier inquiry. They just said that on the orders of the NAB chief, you are being placed under arrest," Ahsan noted. 

The court then asked the NAB prosecutor, Hafiz Asadullah, to explain in detail why the Bureau had placed MSR under arrest. 

"We started investigations against [MSR] in December 2019," Asadullah said. 

"When Nawaz Sharif was chief minister, [MSR] obtained 54 plots from him," he alleged.

"[MSR] illegally obtained plots from the LDA. He could not provide us with records related to these plots," added the NAB prosecutor.

Upon this, the counsel for MSR reminded the prosecutor that an Islamabad High Court order issued last week had clearly stated that if an individual was cooperating with the inquiry, they should not be placed under arrest.

However, after listening to the arguments, the court handed MSR over to NAB for a 12-day physical remand and postponed proceedings in the case until March 25. 

'NAB did not listen to my answers'

Earlier, while speaking to the media, MSR said that NAB had refused to listen to his answers when he appeared for the March 12 hearing.

"I was issued a notice two days ago which asked me to come to the NAB offices with everything [documents related to the inquiry]," he told reporters. 

"I appeared before NAB. I told them that I have brought written answers and would respond to all their queries. I was asked additional questions too, which I answered."

"NAB did not listen to my answers. They have a recording of my answers and I wish that recording was released to the media. This is the second time I was not heard by the accountability body," he added. 

Also read: NAB denies medicines, food to Jang and Geo editor-in-chief

Arrest on concocted charges: spokesperson 

NAB had on Thursday arrested the editor-in-chief of the Jang Geo Media Group in connection with property allegedly bought illegally from a government entity more than 34 years ago.

The property was, in fact, bought from a private party and all evidence of this was given to NAB and legal requirements fulfilled, such as duty and taxes.

According to the Group's spokesperson, the editor-in-chief's appearance before NAB was in relation to a call-up notice for the verification of the complaint, yet an arrest was made.

The Islamabad High Court's recent judgment against NAB's violation of the country’s law and a violation of NAB's own rules has been committed, the Group's spokesperson said.

Also read: Jang Group CEO Mir Shakil-ur-Rehman appears before NAB Lahore

"In the past 18 months, NAB has sent our reporters, producers, and editors — directly and indirectly — over a dozen notices, threatening a shutdown of our channels (via PEMRA) due to our reporting and our programmes on NAB," said the spokesperson.

"In its defense, NAB has in writing said it is a constitutionally protected institution that cannot be criticised. NAB has also, through several means, tried to persuade the group to step back, to stop stories, among other measures in its favor at the expense of the full truth.

"The Group will not stop any reporters, producers or anchors from any story that is on merit and at the same time will include NAB’s version. In this case, NAB denies all allegations above and claims they are independently pursuing all cases and have not been asked to do by the democratically elected government in Islamabad," the spokesperson added.