N19.4bn fraud: Ex-Aviation Minister, Sirika, brother get N100m bail

Justice Suleiman Belgore of the Federal Capital Territory High Court, on Thursday, granted former Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, and his brother, Ahmad Sirika, bail in the sum of N100m each with two sureties in like sum.

This followed their arraignment by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission on amended 10 counts, bordering on abuse of office and unlawful contract award to the tune of N19.4bn.

Justice Belgore granted them bail following the applications by their lawyers, Micheal Noma (SAN) and Mahmud Magaji (SAN).

The judge, in a ruling, said he found no compelling reason why the defendants should be denied bail, noting that the prosecution did not oppose the application and the ex-minister had earlier been arraigned before Justice Sylvanus Oriji of the same court and was granted bail.

“The prosecution filed no counter-affidavit. He (Sirika) is already on administrative bail, he met all the bail applications, he continues to abide by the bail conditions; he has never been convicted of any criminal offence in Nigeria, he is a recipient of national honours, he has an aged mother he is catering for and the investigation in the case has been completed.

“It is my resolution that this applicant deserves to be admitted to bail and I so do,” Justice Belgore held.

As part of the bail conditions, the judge said one of the sureties must own a landed property in the Federal Capital Territory.

The judge also held that the defendants were not to travel outside the shores of Nigeria without the permission of the court.

He subsequently fixed May 28 and 29 for the commencement of trial.

In the charges, the EFCC alleged that Sirika, “while being the Minister of Aviation, on or about 18th August 2022, in Abuja, within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, did use your position to confer an unfair advantage upon Enginos Nigeria Limited, whose alter ego, Ahmad Abubakar Sirika, is your biological brother, by using your position to influence the award to him, the contract for the construction of a terminal building at Katsina Airport for the sum of N1,345,586,500.00.”

According to the EFCC, Sirika’s alleged action was a violation of Section 19 of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2000 and punishable under the same section.

In another count, the EFCC alleged that “on or about 3rd of November, 2022, in Abuja,” Sirika used his position “to confer unfair advantage upon Enginos Nigeria Limited, whose alter ego, Ahmad Abubakar Sirika, is your biological brother, by using your position to influence the award to him, the contract for the establishment of Fire Truck Maintenance and Refurbishment Centre at Katsina Airport for the sum of N3,811,497,685.00.”

In another count, he was accused of corruptly awarding a N615,195,275.00 contract to his brother for the procurement and installation of lift and air conditioners and power generators for the Aviation House in Abuja.

Furthermore, the EFCC alleged that Sirika, between August 2022 and May 2023 in Abuja, “had possession of an aggregate sum of N2,337, 840,674.16, which sum you knew indirectly represented the proceeds of criminal conducts of Hadi Abubakar Sirika, who was the Minister of Aviation at the time.”

It was revealed that the ex-minister’s younger brother, Abubakar, was earlier arrested and detained by the EFCC in connection with N3,212,258,930.18 paid to his company, Enginos Nigerian Limited’s bank account by the former minister.

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