Thursday, 17 December 2015

Alleged N13.6bn Scam: Yuguda, Bafarawa, Son Beg Court For Bail

Justice Peter Affen of the Abuja High Court at Maitama, yesterday, adjourned till Monday to decide whether the former Minister of Finance, Bashir Yuguda, former governor of Sokoto State, Attahiru Dalhatu Bafarawa and his son, Sagir Attahiru, should be released on bail pending their trial.

The trio are answering  to a 22-count criminal charge alongside the embattled erstwhile National Security Adviser, NSA, Col. Sambo Dasuki, retd, and the former Director of Finance in the Office of the NSA, Mr. Shuaibu Salisu.

Meanwhile, after two days  at the Kuje Prison in Abuja, the Chairman emeritus of DAAR Communications Limited, High Chief Raymond Dokpesi, yesterday, regained his freedom.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, alleged that the accused persons connived and diverted over N13.6billion from the office of the NSA, prior to the 2015 general elections.

A company that the anti-graft agency said served as conduit pipe for the alleged illegal diversion of the funds, Dahaltu Investment Limited, was also charged before the court as the 4th accused person.

All the accused persons had on Tuesday, pleaded not guilty to the charge, even as they separately prayed the court to okay their release on bail pending hearing and determination of the criminal case against them.

They predicated their bail applications on provisions of sections 158, 162, 165, 167 and 168 (b) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015, as well as  section 36(5) (6) of the 1999 constitution.

The accused persons, through their lawyers, insisted that the charge slammed against them by the anti-graft agency were bailable.

Whereas Dasuki, through his counsel, Ahmed Raji, SAN, urged the court to grant him bail on self recognition, Bafarawa and his son, Sagir, prayed the court to grant them bail on health grounds.

While Barafawa told the court that his health had badly deteriorated owing to his continued detention, his son, told the court that he has Ulcer.

Both father and son addressed the court, yesterday, through two different Senior Advocates of Nigeria, Chief J.O. Olatoke and Mr. H. O. Afolabi. Likewise, the 3rd accused, Salisu, prayed the court for bail, saying he has been in detention for the past 31 days.

Meantime, the EFCC, yesterday, urged the court to refuse their bail requests and order accelerated hearing of the case against them.

Th e Commission, through its lawyer, Mr. Rotimi Jacobs, SAN, told the court that the defendants have wide influence and affluence to intimidate, harass and influence the proposed prosecution witnesses if released on bail.

EFCC insisted that the defendants will escape from Nigeria once out of detention.

It told the court that the applicants are also being investigated in respect of other criminal allegations.

The prosecuting agency, via an affidavit that was deposed to by one of its lead detectives, Mr. Hassan Saidu, told the court that the accused persons acquired “a large volume of assets with the proceeds of crimes”.

Saidu said his team was currently tracing the assets, “if released on bail the applicants will interfere with the assets tracing activities”, he added.

He further told the court that investigations revealed that the accused persons transferred large sums of monies  outside Nigeria, saying they used part of the funds and acquired several assets in Dubai and London.

“That the prosecution is prepared to prove its case  within the shortest possible time if the application is refused and the court orders accelerated hearing”, Saidu averred.

Jacobs, yesterday, argued that it would not be in the interest of justice for the court  to admit any of the accused persons to bail.

After listening to all the parties yesterday, Justice Affen adjourned his ruling till Monday.

EFCC had alleged that the  accused persons diverted funds budgeted for the fight against terrorism and insurgency in Nigeria.

It told the trial court that the funds were sequentially withdrawn from an account  of the office of the NSA with CBN and other financial institutions.

“The funds were diverted for political campaign and shared to third parties who have nothing to do with the NSA”.

EFCC lawyer told the court that the accused persons have made confessional statements.

“My lord we are taking about monies running into billions of Naira”, Jacobs added.

Meanwhile, after two days  at the Kuje Prison in Abuja, the Chairman emeritus of DAAR Communications Limited, High Chief Raymond Dokpesi, yesterday, regained his freedom.

A statement from his counsel, Chief Mike Ozehkome, SAN, said Dokpesi was released from prison custody having perfected all  the conditions that were stipulated by trial Justice Gabriel Kolawole of the Federal High Court in Abuja.

Justice Kolawole had on Monday granted Dokpesi who is facing a six-count criminal charge that was entered against him by the EFCC, bail to the tune of N400milion.

The court, among other conditions, directed him to produce two sureties, as well as to surrender all his travelling documents to the Deputy Registrar of the high court.

Two of the charges against Bafarawa and the others read: “That you Col. Mohammed Sambo Dasuki (rtd), whilst being the National Security Adviser and Shuaibu Salisu whilst being the Director of Finance and Administration in the Office of the  NSA, between 14th April, 2014, and 7th May, 2015, in Abuja, within the jurisdiction of this court, entrusted with dominion over certain properties to wit: an aggregate sum of N3,350,000,000 (Three Billion, Three Hundred and Fifty Million Naira) being part of the funds in the account of the office of the NSA with the Central Bank of Nigeria, committed criminal breach of trust in respect of the said properties when you transfered same to the account of Dalhatu Investment Limited with the United Bank of Africa Plc. purporting same to be payment for the supply of security equipment and you thereby committed an offence punishable under section 315 of the Penal Code Act, Cap 532, Vol. 4, LFN 2004.

“That you Dalhatu Investment Limited, Sagir Attahiru and Attahiru Dalhatu Bafarawa, between 14th April, 2014 and 17th May, 2015, in Abuja, within the jurisdiction of this court, dishonestly received stolen property, to wit: an aggregate sum of  N3,350,000,000 (Three Billion, Three Hundred and Fifty Million Naira)  into your account with the United Bank of Africa Plc  from the account of the office of the NSA with the CBN, which belonged to the Federal Government of Nigeria and knowing the said sum to be stolen property but purporting same to be payment for the supply of security equipment and you thereby committed an offence punishable under section 317 of the Penal Code Act, Cap 532, Vol. 4, LFN 2004.