By Emma Ujah, Abuja Bureau Chief
•I’m being persecuted — Zari
•Our official being framed up — Anti-graft body
There were claims and counter claims at the weekend between an Abuja-based businessman and owner of G. Complex, Alhaji Abdulhamid Zari, and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, over the former’s claim of alleged persecution by an official of the commission.
Whereas Zari is alleging that an official of the Commission, Alh. Abubakar Aliyu Madaki, is frustrating his N15 billion investment through persecution as well as harassment of his associates, the EFCC, in a strongly-worded statement, said the allegations against its officials were not only watery but also unsubstantiated.
Zari, who took journalists on a facility tour of the complex located at Gunduma village, Nassarawa State, alleged that the official had used the EFCC to stall the massive investment since March 2017.
He presented documents including court orders asking the anti-graft agency to unseal his company premises but claimed that the agency had ignored the orders.
“The EFCC has failed to obey various court orders in respect of this matter. The Federal High Court, presided over by Justice Binta Nyako, in suit No. FHC/ABJ/CS/557/2017 in an application for the enforcement of my fundamental rights, directed the parties to maintain status quo. This notwithstanding, the next morning, the EFCC sealed my house, chasing my entire family away. It would further interest you to know that upon the conclusion of the case, the court, in its judgment, made another order, directing the EFCC to remove the paintings on the walls of my premises. The EFCC has failed to comply with the said order till date”, the embattled businessman said.”
“My companies and I have been investigated by virtually all the departments of EFCC, namely Procurement Fraud Section, Economic Governance Section, and Land and Property Fraud Section. It would further interest you to note that EFCC has failed to disclosed the results of all these investigations against my companies and I.”
He alleged that Madaki was angry that he refused to buy a 10-hectare land from him alleging that since then, the EFCC official had been using the Commission against his businesses and his person.
The G. Complex investments span a vehicle assembly plant; a 160-bed hospital; a university; a state-of-the-art bakery with the capacity of producing 120,000 loaves every 12 hours; a mega filling station; expatriate and local staff quarters, among others.
Madaki, EFCC react
When Sunday Vanguard contacted the accused EFCC official for his response, he said that the anti-graft body had responded and that he would not make any other comment on the matter.
When told that the allegations were against him as a person and not the EFCC, he insisted that he had no other reaction than the commission’s position.
The EFCC, in a statement by its Head of Media and Publicity, Mr. Wilson Uwujaren, had said Madaki was being framed up.
“The commission wishes to state that there is no truth to this allegation, which is contrived to malign and impugn the reputation of Madaki, an operative who has handled several high profile investigations without blemish”, the statement said.
“It will interest members of the public, who may have been misled by the mischievous story, to know that Zari had been crossed with Madaki over suspicion that he instigated the investigation leading to his arrest and detention by the commission.
“Soon after he was released on bail, Zari launched a media offensive against Madaki, accusing him of buying half of the land in his home town, Keffi for N10 billion. He also claimed that the officer owns two palatial mansions in choice areas of Abuja worth N250million.
“In line with the commission’s stance on professional responsibility by officers and men, the phantom allegations were duly investigated by the commission and found to be baseless.
“That the ludicrous charge failed to hurt the career of Madaki has not deterred Zari. He engineered the arrest of the officer after he wrote a petition to the Police at Nasarawa Command, alleging that Madaki and his brother had conspired to kill him during the Ramadan of 2017. Madaki was detained for a day in Lafia.
“ The case was eventually transferred to the Nigeria Force Headquarters for proper investigation. The police have already concluded investigation and the case file sent to the Office of the Attorney General and Minister of Justice.
“Once Zari discovered that Force Headquarters had stepped into the matter, he proceeded to Lafia and again got four members of Madaki’s family arrested, including a 76-year-old man Hashimu Sale, who later died in prison while on remand.
“He also got his lawyer, Mike Ozekhome, SAN, to sue the commission and Madaki for continuously inviting him. Other relief he sought was an order of court stopping the commission from further investigating him. This was rejected by the court. He proceeded on appeal to the appellate court.”
“Zari, unfortunately is not acting alone. Intelligence available to the commission indicates that the invidious publications are sponsored and promoted by a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, who is currently being investigated by the same officer.
“The objective is clear, to intimidate Madaki and the EFCC, and prepare the grounds for claims of malice or vindictiveness by the time charges are filed against the suspects in court.”