Alleged Abuja land grab: Court quashes charge against El-Rufai

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BY IKECHUKWU NNOCHIRI
ABUJA – An Abuja High Court at Maitama, yesterday, quashed the 8-count criminal charge that was preferred against the former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Malam Nasir El-Rufai, by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.

The anti-graft agency had alleged that El-Rufai who is currently a chieftain of the opposition All Progressive Congress Party, APC, connived with the former Director General of the Abuja Geographical Information Systems, AGIS, Mrs. Altine Jubril and the former General Manager of the establishment, Ismaila Iro, and fraudulently allocated several plots of land to his wives, relatives and cronies whilst he held sway as the Minister of the FCT between 1999 to 2007.

Specifically, the charge against him and the other two accused persons, bothered on conspiracy, fraud and gross abuse of public office.

Mallam El- Rufai

Mallam El- Rufai


Meanwhile, the ex-Minister who was docked by the EFCC on April 7, 2008, was immediately released on self recognition by the court, even though his two co-accused persons were mandated to deposit N50 million each to the court registrar as bail bond.

Subsequently, the accused persons approached the high court and prayed it to quash the charge which they said was not only persecutory, but equally amounted to a clear abuse of the judicial process.

It was their contention that the EFCC failed to establish a prima-facie criminal case capable of warranting their conviction, saying the agency was not able to adduce any incriminatory evidence that linked them to the commission of any known offence, an argument that was upheld yesterday by trial Justice Sadiq Umar.

However, the EFCC had maintained that the conduct of the former Minister as a public servant ran contrary to section 2 and 19 of the ICPC Act.

Whereas the 2nd accused person, Jubril, was said to have used her position as the then Director-General of the Abuja Geographic Information System, AGIS, to approve the illegal re-allocation of the said plots of land that were taken away from the original owners, the 3rd accused person, Iro, according to the EFCC, used his position as the General Manager of AGIS, to facilitate the transfer of the title deeds of the land to all the allotees anointed by the ex-Minister.

The anti-graft agency maintained that the offence they allegedly committed was punishable under section 19 of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2000.

Reacting to the verdict through his spokesman, Mr Muyiwa Adekeye, yesterday, the embattled ex-Minister said he holds no grudges against his adversaries.

He said: “It is a vindication he never doubted will come, confident in his innocence and the integrity with which he served this country. Despite the magnitude of the pains he has endured, El Rufai has decided to put all this in the past. He intends to move on, stepping confidently into the future with forgiveness and goodwill, devoid of the cobwebs of grudge”, he added.

Meantime, some of the charges against them quashed by the court yesterday, read, “that you, Mallam Nasir Ahmed EI Rufai (M) between 13 day of December, 2003’ and 14th day of December, 2007 or thereabout, at the Ministry of Federal Capital Territory Abuja, in the course of and/ or in the performance of your duties as the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, did use your said office and position to gratify and confer corrupt or unfair advantage on your relation to wit: your wife Hadiza Ahmed EI Rufai by re-allocating to her parts of the parcel of land known as plot No1201, Asokoro District (A4) Abuja, originally allocated in the Federal Capital Territory master plan to Power Holding Company of Nigeria Plc for the construction of transmitting/injection sub- stations which allocation you had wrongfully and/or intentionally revoked for that purpose, thereby committing an offence contrary to and punishable under Section 19 of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act 2000.

“That you, Mallam Nasir Ahmed EI Rufai (M) between 13th day of December, 2003 and 14th day of December, 2007 or thereabout, at The Ministry of Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, in the course of and/ or in the performance of your official duties as the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory did use your said office and position to gratify and confer sormpt or unfair advantage on your associates to wit: M Oil Limited, Philip’ Dauda, Saidu Satnaila, Iyabo Obasanjo Bello, Jamaila Alhassan and Bello Said, by re-allocating to them parts of the parcel of land known as plot No 1201, Asokoro District Abuja (A4), originally allocated in the Federal Capital Territory master plan to Power Holding Company of Nigeria PIc for the Construction of transmitting/injection sub-stations which allocation you had wrongfully and/or intentionally revoked for that purpose, thereby committing an offence contrary to and punishable under Section 19 of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act 2000.

“That you, Mallam Nasir Ahmed El Rufai (M) between 13th day of December, 2003 and 14th day of December, 2007 or thereabout, at The Ministry of Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, in the course of and/ or in the performance of your official duties as the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory did use your said Office and position to gratify and confer corrupt or unfair advantage on your relation to wit: your wife -Asia Ahmed EI Rufai by re-allocating to her parts of the parcel of land known as plot No 1201, Asokoro District (A’4) Abuja, originally allocated in the Federal Capital Territory master plan to Power Holding Company of Nigeria Plc for the Construction of transmitting/injection sub-stations which allocation you had and/or intentionally revoked for that purpose, thereby committing an offence contrary to and punishable under Section 19 of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act 2000”.

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