Nigeria

Alleged N1.1bn fraud: Court orders arrest of former Customs boss, Dikko

Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu of the Federal High Court, sitting in Abuja on Monday, ordered the arrest of former Comptroller General of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Abdullahi Inde Dikko, over his continued failure to attend the court to answer to a charge of fraud brought against him and two others by the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC).

While making the order yesterday, the trial Judge noted that counsel to the former Customs boss, Solomon Akuma (SAN), who, at the last hearing on the matter, promised to ensure that his client attends court yesterday, only to turn around to present a medical report, claiming Dikko was critically ill and on admission in a hospital in London.

Justice Ojukwu stated that Dikko’s address, as shown on the medical report, No: N6 Amhed Musa Crescent Jabi, Abuja did not support his counsel’s claim that Dikko was on admission in a London hospital.

The judge, however, noted that should the prosecution, in executing the bench warrant discovers that Dikko is actually on admission in a London hospital, the execution shall be suspended and added that if otherwise, the prosecution should arrest Dikko and produce him in court on March 16, 2020, which is the next adjourned date for arraignment.

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Justice Ojukwu observed that on December 10, Dikko’s Counsel had informed the court that his client was in Dubai, the United Arab Emirate (UAE) attending to his health and that he will bring him personally to Court, “But today, he turned round presenting a medical report that the first defendant, Dikko, is in London and in such health condition that he could not be bundled into the plane to the Court.”

The former Customs boss was to be arraigned on Monday along with Garba Makarfi, former Assistant Comptroller-General of Customs in charge of Finance, Administration and Technical Services and Umar Hussaini, a lawyer.

While Garba Makarfi and Hussain were present in court in the two previous adjournments of the matter, December 10, 2019, and January 14, 2020, Dikko was conspicuously absent.

Dikko and his co-defendants are accused of inducing one Yemi Obadeyi to pay the total sum of N1,100, 952,380.96 into the account of Capital Law Office, a company belonging to Hussaini, for the purchase of 120 units of duplexes as residential accommodation for officers of the Nigeria Customs Service.

Hussaini was said to have distributed the money into various other bank accounts and for his part in the deal, he was rewarded with the sum of $3 million.

According to the affidavit deposed to by Ephraim Otti, ICPC’s legal officer, the illegal activities of Dikko and his co-defendants violate the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2000; Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act 2006, and Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 (as amended).

It would be recalled that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had recovered several luxury vehicles from a warehouse which the commission said was owned by Dikko. In another operation by the EFCC on another of Dikko’s properties, several units of tricycles, motorcycles, buses, and rug carpets were also recovered.

Dikko was said to have acquired a N2 billion mansion in the Jabi district of Abuja. Another N2.6 billion was also said to have been withdrawn from the account of the Nigeria Customs and paid into several bank accounts belonging to companies allegedly floated by a former Assistant Comptroller General who served under Dikko.

The charge marked: FHC/ABJ/CR/21/2019, has Dikko, a former Assistant Comptroller-General of Customs in charge of Finance, Administration and Technical Services, Garba Makarfi and Umar Hussaini, a lawyer, and owner of Capital Law firm, as defendants.