Court Orders Ex-Customs Boss, Dikko to Face Trial

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A Federal High Court in Abuja has insisted that a former Comptroller General of Customs (CGC), Abdullahi Dikko, must be arraigned on a criminal charge pending against him.

Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu ordered yesterday that Dikko must attend court on November 10, 2010 for the purpose of his being arraigned on the 10-count charge marked: FHC/ABJ/CR/21/2018 in which Dikko and two others are accused of defrauding the Managing Director of Cambial Limited, Yemi Obadeyi of N1.1bilion.

Justice Ojukwu gave the order while ruling on an application for adjournment made by Dikko’s lawyer, Abubakar Magaji (SAN) when the case was called and the judge asked why the first defendant (Dikko) was absent in court. When the judge asked why Dikko was not in court, Magaji said: “He is in the hospital and undergoing medical examination.”

He said the problem has to do with his client’s kidney.

Magaji then applied for an adjournment to enable his client attend to his health and return on a later date for arraignment.

Lawyer to the prosecution, Ephraim Otti objected to an adjournment. Otti said from what he saw in the medical report tendered by Magaji, “the first defendant is not sick, but just require routine medical check -up. This is a ploy to further delay the hearing of this case.”

Ruling, Justice Ojukwu granted Magaji’s prayer, but insisted that Dikko must attend court on the next date for the purpose of his arraignment along with the other defendants – Garba Makarfi (a former Assistant Comptroller in charge of finance at the Nigeria Customs Service) and Umar Husseini (a lawyer) – who were in court yesterday.

In the charge filed since last year by the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC), Dikko, Makarfi and Hussain are accused of defrauding a real estate firm, Cambial Limited to the tune of N1,100,952,380.96, using their offices.

In 2010, the NCS was said to have bought a housing estate in Kuje, Abuja, comprising 120 units of duplexes from Cambial Limited at N4.8billion.

Beside allegedly deducting N819,047,619.04 as legal fees, agency fees, Value Added Tax (VAT) and Withholding Tax, Dikko and Makarfi were said to have asked Cambial Ltd to pay the N1,100,952,380.96 into Hussain’s law firm’s account in Stanbic-IBTC:7200057379 as “security for the completion of works in the estate,” before the firm could access what was left of N4.8billion paid by the NCS into its (Cambial’s) Zenith Bank account.

In counts six, seven and eight, Hussain was said to have “entered a deal with Dikko and Makarfi” to transfer N250million to Abys Motors Ltd’s account in GTB, N486million to Hasbunallah BDC Ltd and to withdraw N260million from the N1,100,952,380.96, which they allegedly obtained from Cambial by false pretense.

Makarfi was, in count nine, said to have received “an aggregate of $3m which was delivered to you in cash by Abdullahi Usman Musa, a representative of Hasbunallah BDC Ltd,” which formed part of the N1,100,952,380.96

He was, in count 10, accused of making false statement to ICPC’s investigator by claiming that he agreed to receive the N1,100,952,380.96 into his firm’s account “as a favour to Dikko and Makarfi, because he believed the money was death benefit on behalf of an unnamed deceased family friend.”

Dikko, Makarfi and Hussain. were said to have “on or about the 6th of April 2010, by false pretence and with intent to defraud, conspired with each other to induce one Mr. Yemi Obadeyi, Managing Director of Cambial Limited, to pay the sum of N1,100,952,380.96 into the account of Capital Law Office, a private law firm owned by Umar Hussain under the pretext that the said sum was required as a refundable ‘completion security deposit’ in respect of the contract for the purchase of 120 units of duplexes as residential accommodation for of the Nigerian Customs Service.”

The offences are said to be contrary to and punishable under the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act 2006 and Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act 2000.