By Abdulwahab Abdulah
An Ikeja High Court was taken aback yesterday when it was told that two Advance Fee Fraud suspects had jumped administrative bail granted to them by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) pending their arraignment.
The two suspects who were billed to be arraigned before Justice Grace Onyeabo on a two-count charge bordering on conspiracy and stealing of about N7. 2 million, property of Dangote Nigeria Limited, were absent without any explanation from either their relatives or their counsel.
Counsel to the EFCC, George Adebola, told the court that the two suspects, Abubakar Sani Gafai and Aliyu Rabiu Mohammed (both staff of Dangote Group of Companies), were on administrative bail. While Abubakar Sani Gafai was the acting group head, security, Aliyu Mohammed was Dangoteâ€™s group liaison officer to the EFCC.
The conpany had in a letter addressed to the chairman of EFCC dated September 20, 2007 told the commission that the monies were deposited into the personal account of Abubakar Gafai. The letter signed by Shuaibu Idris further said the source of the money was the office of EFCC from where some recoveries were made for the company on some cases reported for any possible recovery from some of the companyâ€™s flour customers and transporters who defrauded the company.
Although the two accused persons were initially produced in court on April 8, 2009 by the EFCC, they could not, however, be arraigned owing to the blackout that pervaded the court premises during that week. This, according to the counsel to the EFCC, led to decision to grant them administrative bail particularly to enable them celebrate the Easter holidays with their families.
Efforts to arraign the duo have, however, proved abortive as they have refused to make themselves available for such. EFCC counsel said he was, therefore, surprised at the failure of the accused persons to present themselves in court knowing full well that their case was pending.
Meanwhile, our correspondent can authoritatively report that this is not the first time that Abubakar Sani Gafai was jumping bail granted him by the EFCC. In one of the statements written by his co-accused, Aliyu Rabiu Mohammed he said that it was not the first time that his co-accused was jumping bail.
However, in his extra judicial statement to the EFCC, Abubakar Gafai told the commission that although N3.1million was found in his account, he said that he knew nothing about the deal. According to him, it was Aliyu Mohammed that informed him that one of Dangoteâ€™s customers, Island Trading Company has paid more than N20 million and that N6 million could be shared between some staff of EFCC, himself and Aliyu Mohammed.
â€œHe had already deposited N2 million in my account and at a later date he deposited N500, 000 and N 600, 000 respectively. The remaining money on him he said he was going to share with one Haruna and Bungum of the EFCC. I donâ€™t know these people so I could not confirm whether he gave them or not.
What was at stake was that he told me that the customer who paid in these monies was aware of everything. I donâ€™t even know the particular case in point. But all I know is that Aliyu Rabiu initiated everything as I did not know any of the staff of EFCC not to talk of striking any deal withy themâ€, the statement he wrote on 27 September 2007 read in part.
The matter has been adjourned till 14th October 2009 for mention.