EFCC opens case against Sirika and others


The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has opened its case of alleged N2.6 billion fraud against former Minister of Aviation Hadi Sirika and three others at the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory ( FCT), Maitama.

The anti-corruption agency dragged Sirika alongside her daughter, Fatima; Jalal Sule Hamma and Al-Duraq Investment Limited, in court for abuse of office and contractual fraud.
They are being tried before Judge Sylvanus Oriji on six counts.

During the hearing, Azubuike Okorie, a subpoenaed witness of the EFCC, testified as the first witness (PW1).
He said he was a retired Federal Ministry of Aviation, Director of Procurement and Special Assistant to the Honorable Minister for Projects (2022-2023) and Chairman of the Project Implementation Committee.

When called to testify by prosecution counsel Rotimi Jacobs, SAN, the witness said that as a special assistant he was responsible for monitoring and evaluating the projects.

“The Project Implementation Committee ensures the execution of projects,” he said.
Asked by the federal ministry what he knew about the contract with Al-Duraq Global Investment, he replied: “I was not involved in the contracts and neither is my committee involved in the awarding of the contracts. »

When asked to explain to the court how he obtained the document labeled “List, Projects 2021”, he replied: “These documents were the ones that the minister at the time asked me to send to the secretary permanent and I did it by making photocopies.

“Let me answer this: these documents were given to me. I wasn’t there when he wrote on it, but I assume it was the minister (Sirika) who wrote in red pen because only ministers write in red pen.
He said he saw N800 million against Al-Duraq Global Investment Limited and Apron Expansion and knew that the contract was awarded to the aforementioned company.

He added that before a contract was awarded, the user agency, in this case the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), would have obtained the land.

“Well, the project implementation committee team came into contact with Al-Duraq in Katsina when we went for monitoring and implementation of the project at Katsina Airport.

When we arrived there, because we had a list of other contractors supposed to be on the ground, including Al-Duraq, we did not find any on site.
The witness added that to his knowledge, the contract had not been executed when he left the civil service on May 23, 2023.

When asked if he knew that the 100 per cent payment was made to the fourth accused before he left office?
He told the court he was only aware of the 30 per cent mobilization fee paid to them.
He added that as chairman of the project implementation committee, he was not involved in the payments.

As a former director, what I know is that payments were made in stages,” he said.
Chief Kanu Agabi (SAN), lawyer for Sirika (1st accused), told the court that the accused had just received the papers and needed time to go through them.
The trial. Justice Oriji adjourned the hearing until June 11, 2024 for cross-examination and continuation of the trial.