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N2.7bn fraud: EFCC first witness testifies in Sirika trial

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, on Monday, presented its first witness in the N2.7 billion contract fraud trial of Hadi Sirika; his daughter, Fatima; his Son-in-law, Jalal Hamma, and Al-Buraq Investment Limited.

Led in evidence by EFCC lead counsel, Rotimi Jacobs, the subpoenaed witness, a former director of Procurement, Federal Ministry of Aviation, Azubuike Okorie, informed Justice Sylvanus Oriji, of the Federal Capital Territory High Court Abuja, that the N1.4 billion Apron Extension contract at Katsina Airport was not executed as of the time he left civil service in May 23, 2023.

 

Okorie said, “As of the time I left civil service on May 23, 2023, the contract was not executed, to the best of my knowledge.”

The witness also said while serving as Special Assistant to the Minister, Projects between 2022-2023, and Chairman, Project Implementation Committee at the time, they were responsible for monitoring and evaluating projects to ensure their execution.

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According to him, Al-Buraq was one of the awardees for the project at Kastina Airport.
He told the court that when his committee visited the state for project monitoring and implementation at the airport, Al-Buraq contractors and other contractors were not on the ground.

 

“When we got there(Kastina Airport), we had a list of other contractors who were supposed to be on the ground including Al-Buraq. My lord, we did not find any of them on site then,” he added.

He explained that before a contract was awarded, the user agency, the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria, would have secured land where the project would be sited through a certificate of occupancy.

 

The witness stated that his committee had interactions with the Commissioner, Lands, Kastina State who had informed them then that “because of the conflict between the Nigerian Air Force and Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria, they were not able to secure the land at that time and so the contractors could not go to site.”

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He further testified that he was only aware of the 30 per cent mobilization fee paid to the company in dispute and could not confirm if a 100 per cent payment was made to Al-Buraq.

 

“As Chairman, Project Implementation Committee, I was not involved in payments.

“Payments are made in stages until a contractor finishes the contract,” he said as Rotimi Jacobs told the judge that the subpoenaed witness was done with his testimony.

 

The defendants’ counsel, led by Kanu Agabi, asked the court for an adjournment till tomorrow for cross-examination because they needed time to study the documents EFCC relied on during the witness’s testimony.

 

The court subsequently adjourned till Tuesday, June 11, 2024, for the continuation of the trial.

 

Hadi Sirika, his daughter and son-in-law are facing a six-count amended criminal charge of contract fraud to the tune of N2.7bn.

 

Sirika was accused of using his position to confer undue advantage on his daughter, son-in-law and company.

READ  'EFCC uncovers religious sect laundering money for terrorists'

 

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Court orders final forfeiture of over N12.18bn choice properties linked to Emefiele

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The Federal High Court sitting in Lagos on Friday ordered the final forfeiture to the Federal Government properties valued at over N11.14bn and another N1.04 billion linked to the former Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) governor, Godwin Emefiele.

 

Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke made the order of permanent forfeiture after hearing an application filed and argued by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), through its counsel Chineye Okezie.

 

On June 5, 2024, The judge had upheld the anti-graft agency’s motion filed and argued by its counsel, Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr. Rotimi Oyedepo for a temporary forfeiture of the properties.

 

Oyedepo informed the court that Emefiele was suspected of having bought the choice properties by proxy, with the proceeds of fraud.

 

The EFCC named two current and one former CBN staff as Emefiele’s accomplices in the alleged fraud.

The trio, according to the affidavit filed in support of the application, are Obayemi Oluwaseun Teben and Akomolafe Adebayo working with Olubunmi Makinde a former CBN staff and others.

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The properties are mostly located in highbrow parts of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja.

 

Justice Aneke ordered the EFCC to publish the order for interim forfeiture in a national newspaper for any interested party to show cause why the final order of forfeiture should not be made.

 

The judge then adjourned for a hearing of the application for final forfeiture.

Upon resumption on June 21, no party appeared in court to contest the judge’s interim order and Chineye Okezie moved her application for the permanent forfeiture.

 

After reading a 41-paragraph affidavit deposed to by an EFCC Investigating Officer, Michael John Idoko, the 19 Exhibits attached, a Written Address signed by Okezie, and after hearing Okezie’s motion, Justice Aneke granted the application.

 

The properties were listed by the EFCC in two schedules, A and B.

The judge said: “Having carefully considered the application and submission of counsel, it is hereby ordered as follows: – that a final forfeiture order of this honourable court is hereby made forfeiting to the Federal Government of Nigeria, properties contained in Schedule A herein which were traced and reasonably suspected to have been acquired with proceeds of unlawful activities.”

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They include shops and apartments at Cadastral Zone Maitama and Wuse.

 

For Schedule B, Justice Aneke added: “That a final forfeiture order of this Honourable Court is hereby made forfeiting to the Federal Government of Nigeria, properties contained in Schedule B herein which properties were traced to have been acquired with proceeds of unlawful activities.”

 

The properties include lands and apartments which were paid for on behalf of Oluwaseun at a total value of N1.04 billion.

 

According to the affidavit, Obayemi Oluwaseun Teben and Akomolafe Adebayo working with Olubunmi Makinde “used their positions and Influence as CBN staff to secure retail and Special allocation of Foreign Exchange to different companies in exchange for kickbacks.

 

“That Olubunmi Makinde is the link between Obayemi Oluwaseun Teben and Akomolafe Adebayo and the various companies applying for the purchase of foreign exchange.

 

“That Obayemi Oluwaseun Teben and Akomolafe Adebayo as staffs of the Central Bank of Nigeria has access to the bidding processes and bidding Data of companies who has applied for the approval of form Ms to the CBN through their various commercial banks.”

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Nigerian-born boxer shot dead by neighbour in US

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Isaiah Olugbemi, a Nigerian-born boxer, has been confirmed dead after he was shot multiple times in Odenton, Maryland, US.

 

According to local police, Olugbemi was found on the ground with gunshot wounds along Meadowmist Way in the city on June 17.

 

The 27-year-old was rushed to the Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center, where he was pronounced later pronounced dead.

 

Court documents later revealed that the police obtained surveillance footage showing a white male confronting Olugbemi with a handgun before shooting him multiple times and fleeing the scene on foot.

 

Nicholas Giroux, the victim’s neighbour, was identified as the suspect in the footage.

 

According to CBS, police said they interviewed Giroux on June 18, and he confessed to the crime and was charged with first and second-degree murder.

 

Abraham Olugbemi, the victim’s brother, alleged that Giroux had threatened the deceased at least two other times with a gun this year — in January and June.

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Olugbemi was a Junior Olympics gold medalist, a three-time Golden Gloves state boxing champion and a two-time Open Regional champion.

 

Giroux’s preliminary hearing is set for July 17.

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Gunmen abduct pregnant woman due for delivery on her way to hospital

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Some yet-to-be-identified armed men have abducted a pregnant woman, simply identified as Mrs Ogunbunmi in Ogun State.

 

Mrs Ogunbunmi, who was said to be due for delivery, reportedly left her home in Oke Lantoro for the State General Hospital, Ijaiye, Abeokuta before her reported abduction on a date not disclosed.

 

According to reports, her husband, Ogunbunmi Lateef, received a WhatsApp message notifying him of his wife’s kidnapping by these abductors.

Confirming the incident, on Thursday in a statement on her X handle formerly called Twitter, the spokesperson for the state police command, Omolola Odutola, said the suspected abduction had been reported to the command.

 

Odutola stated, “One Ogunbunmi Lateef of Oke Lantoro reported that his pregnant wife due for delivery left home for State Hospital Ijaiye Abeokuta.

 

“He received a WhatsApp message confirming the abduction of his wife by unknown armed men”.

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