By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, yesterday, arraigned four men before the Federal High Court in Abuja for illegal possession of gold valued above N1billion.
The quartet, who were charged alongside three companies, pleaded guilty to a two-counts amended charge the anti-graft agency preferred against them.
Those on trial for the crime that was allegedly committed in 2018, are Abba Ali Yahaya, Ali Abdullahi, Aminu Mahmud Adam, Alyu Mohammed, while the affected companies are, Indo Nigeria Mining Company Limited, A. A. Mai Zinari Ltd and Al-Izzat Trading & Investment Ltd.
EFCC also alleged that the defendants attempted to transport a cash sum of €112,800 without making a declaration of the same to the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) as required by law.
They were further accused of acting in breach of both the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011, and the Nigerian Minerals and Mining Act, 2007.
Meanwhile, all the defendants pleaded guilty to the charge marked FHC/ABJ/CR/80/2019, even as trial Justice Evelyn Maha stood down the case to determine their sentence.
Aliyu Mohammed, who was described as the Director of Indo Nigeria Mining Company Limited and A. A. Mai Zinari Ltd, pleaded on their behalf; while Aminu Mohammed Adam, described as a director of Al-Izzat Trading and Investment Ltd, equally pleaded for the company.
Another firm, Sino Minmetals Company Limited, which was originally cited as the 4th defendant, was de-listed from the charge following an oral application by the prosecuting lawyer, Mohammed Abubakar.
EFCC said its investigations revealed that the 8th defendant, Mohammed, ceased to be the Director of the firm from August 18, 2016, while the alleged offence was committed on August 10, 2018, about two years after.
“My lord in the light of this, we apply that the name of the 4th defendant be struck out from the amended charge filed on July 17, 2019”, EFCC lawyer added.
The application was not opposed by the defendants who were represented by Mr. C. A. Ejugo and Abdulhameed Mohammed.
Consequently, trial Justice Evelyn Maha struck out the 4th defendant from the charge which the other defendants pleaded guilty to.
EFCC disclosed that the 1st defendant, Yahaya, was arrested at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja while he was on board an Ethiopian Airline flight to Dubai.
He allegedly under-declared the cash with him by only declaring $26,000 in the NCS form instead of the actual €112,800 that was in his possession.