ByÂ Â Ise-Oluwa Ige
ABUJAâ€”The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), has docked two key officials of the Abuja Geographic Information System (AGIS), Altine Jubrin and Ismaila Iro, before a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja.
They were docked on a day their boss and former minister in charge of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Malam Nasir el-Rufai, sent a one-time Attorney-General of the Federation, Chief Akinlolu Olujinmi (SAN), to appear for him in protest in the case.
Jubrin and Iro are facing criminal trial for allegedly conspiring with el-Rufai to re-allocate lands confiscated from individuals and corporate persons to his family members.
But, they could not enter their pleas yesterday owing to the absence of the principal accused person in the case, el-Rufai, who is at present out of the country and could not be served the charge in the case personally.
However, the trial judge, Justice Adamu Bello, yesterday adjourned ruling till today on a request by EFCC to regularise the invalid service of the charge on Ribadu through a lady in his Abuja house. Section 89 of the Criminal Procedure Act stipulates that prosecutor must personally serve criminal charge on anybody sought to be arraigned before proceedings can commence.
But EFCC has brought an application under section 90 of the CPA to get the courtâ€™s permission to serve the criminal charge on him by substituted means.
It would be recalled that EFCC had charged the ex-minister before the Abuja Federal high court over alleged illegal re-allocation of unlawfully revoked Abuja land to his family members and cronies.
Two key officials of the Abuja Geographic Information System (AGIS), Altine Jubrin and Ismaila Iro who allegedly conspired with him (el-Rufai) to re-allocate the land to his family members were also charged as accused persons in the case.
Jubrin is the Director-General of AGIS while Iro is the General Manager of AGIS.
During proceedings yesterday, only Iroh and Jubrin were available for trial.
El-Rufai was conspicuously absent in court but he was represented by one-time Attorney-General of the Federation, Chief Akinlolu Olujinmi (SAN).
Olujinmi said he came to court in protest.
The el-Rufai family members who allegedly benefited from the alleged illegal land deals but who were not listed as accused persons in the case include his wife, Hadiza Isma el-Rufai, Bashir el-Rufai, Asia Ahmad el-Rufai, Ibrahim el-Rufai, Binta Ahmed el-Rufai, Hadiza Isma el-Rufai, Tijani Ahmed Rufai and Ali Rufai.
In the charge sheet already lodged at the registry of the Federal high court, the first daughter of former President Olusegun Obasanjo was also named as beneficiary of the land deal.
Also attached to the charge sheet was a list of 10 plots of lands located in various parts of the FCT, that were illegally allocated to several members of the El-Rufai family.
Specifically, the trio of el-Rufai, Jubrin and Iro were accused of conspiring with one another to revoke a piece of land originally allocated to the Power Holding Company of Nigeria Plc for the construction of transmitting/injection sub-stations and reallocate it to his wife thereby committing an offence contrary to and punishable under section 19 of the corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2000.
El-Rufai was also accused of having used his office and position to re-allocate a parcel of land originally allocated in the FCT master plan to Nigerian Postal Services Plc (NIPOST) for the construction of a post office in the Miatama district of the town, to his associates the System Property Development Consortium Limited (SPDC).