• Monday, June 24, 2024
businessday logo


Alleged N2.8bn fraud: EFCC opens case against Sirika, others

Alleged N2.8bn fraud: EFCC opens case against Sirika, others

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Monday in a Federal Capital Territory (FCT), High Court, Maitama opened its case of alleged N2.6 billion fraud against former Aviation Minister, Hadi Sirika and three others.

The EFCC dragged Sirika alongside his daughter, Fatima; Jalal Sule Hamma and Al-Duraq Investment Limited, for abuse of office and contract fraud. They are standing trial before Justice Sylvanus Oriji on six counts.

At the hearing, Azubuike Okorie, a subpoenaed witness of the EFCC testified as the first witness, (PW1)

He said he was a retired staff of the Federal Ministry of Aviation, director, procurement and special assistant to the minister, Projects (2022-2023) and chairman, the project implementation committee

When led in evidence by the prosecution counsel, Rotimi Jacobs, the witness said as a special assistant, he was responsible for monitoring and evaluating projects.

“The project implementation committee ensures the execution of projects.”

When asked about what he knew about the contract to Al-Duraq Global Investment by the federal ministry, he said, “I was not involved in contracts and my committee is also not involved in awarding contracts.

When asked to tell the court how he got the exhibit tagged ‘List, 2021 Projects’ he said, “These documents were the ones the then minister asked me to send to the permanent secretary and I did that by making photocopies.

“Let me answer it this way, these documents were given to me, I was not there when he wrote on it but I will assume, it is the minister (Sirika) who wrote in red pen because only ministers write in red pen.”

He said he saw N800 million against Al-Duraq Global Investment Limited and Apron Expansion and was aware the contract was given to the above company. He added that before a contract is awarded, the user’s agency, in this case, the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), would have secured the land.

“Well, the team of the Project Implementation Committee came in contact with Al-Duraq in Kastina when we went for project monitoring and implementation at Kastina airport.

“When we got there, because we had a list of other contractors who were supposed to be on ground including Al-Duraq, we did not find any of them on site then.”

The witness further said that as of the time he left civil service on May 23, 2023 to the best of his knowledge, the contract was not executed.

When asked if he was aware that 100 per cent payment was made to the fourth defendant before he left office?

He told the court that he was only aware of the 30 per cent mobilisation fee paid to them.

He added that as chairman of the Project Implementation Committee, he was not involved in payments.

As a former director, what I know is that payments were made in stages,” he said

Jacobs told the court that, that was all for the witness.

Kanu Agabi, counsel to Sirika (1st defendant), told the court that he was just served with the papers today and needed time to go through them.

“I beg let’s come back tomorrow.”

Mahmoud Magaji, counsel to Fatima (2nd defendant), and Michael Numa, counsel to Al-Duraq Investment, aligned with him. The prosecution counsel, Jacobs did not object to their prayer.

Justice Oriji then adjourned until Tuesday, June 11, 2024, for cross-examination and continuation of trial. NAN