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‘N19.4billion fraud’ : Sirika, brother barred from traveling outside Nigeria without permission, gets N200 million fresh bail

1716479416 Hadi Sirika.webp

A former Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika and his brother, Ahmad, have been granted N200 million naira bail in the fresh fraud-related charges instituted against them by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) before a Federal Capital Territory High Court, Garki Abuja.

The court has also barred them from travelling out of the country except with the court’s permission.

In the EFCC fresh 10-count charge on Thursday, Sirika was accused of conferring unfair advantage on his brother while using him as leverage to divert over  19 billion naira from the Federal Ministry of Aviation.

The anti-graft agency also alleged that the former Minister engaged in the “illegal award” of contracts but the duo pleaded not guilty.

Nairametrics previously reported that Sirika, alongside his daughter, Fatima, and son-in-law, Jalal Hamma, were arraigned before Justice Sylvanus Oriji of the FCT High Court over fraudulent practices associated with the Nigeria Air debacle.

Oriji had imposed a N300 million bail bond on them including two sureties in like sum.

Sirika served under former President Muhammadu Buhari as Minister of Aviation.

Bail request

After the charges were read to them, Sirika’s lawyer, Michael Numa (SAN),  urged Justice Sulaiman Belgore to grant his client bail on liberal terms, saying his aged mother who is 90 years needs to be taken care of by the defendant.

He said the court should grant his client bail on the terms already granted him by his brother judge, Oriji,  which included a 100 million bail bond each as well as sureties who must own properties in FCT.

Abubakar’s lawyer, Mahmud Magaji (SAN) equally asked the court to grant his client bail, saying he is a “responsible civil servant”.

EFCC counsel, Oluwaleke Atolagbe, did not object to the requests for bail, saying the anti-graft agency had already granted them administrative bail.

However, he said, “The bail that will be granted should be what will guarantee the availability of the defendants.”

What the judge said

After hearing from the legal team of all the parties, the judge observed that Sirika had never been convicted before while the investigation in the case had already been completed.

He found merit in Sirika’s bail application.

The judge said the bail request is granted in line with the ruling of Justice Oriji’s terms, implying N100 million bail bond among others.

“I see no reason to depart from the terms of bail granted to him by my brother judge,” Belgore said.

The court equally granted his brother bail on the same terms granted by Justice Oriji.

The judge stressed that the duo should not travel outside Nigeria without express permission from the court.

After the ruling, the court subsequently adjourned to May 28 in the afternoon while May 29 will be in the morning.

Backstory

Three months ago, the EFCC had said its operatives arrested Abubakar Ahmad Sirika, the brother of Hadi Sirika, over an alleged contract fraud in the aviation ministry.

Abubakar was picked up by the anti-graft agency on Sunday, February 4, following an investigation in the Ministry of Aviation and Aerospace Development.

During his tenure as minister, Sirika faced allegations including conspiracy, abuse of office, diversion of public funds, contract inflation, criminal breach of trust, and money laundering totaling N8,069,176,864.

The commission had revealed that the funds in dispute related to four aviation contracts awarded by the former minister to a company called Engirios Nigeria Limited, which is owned by his younger brother.

The EFCC Is empowered by law to track financial crimes.

Every accused person remains innocent until found guilty by a competent court.


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