A Director of Finance and Account in the Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing, Ibrahim Tumsah, standing trial for allegedly failing to declare his ownership of 86 exotic cars, alongside his brother, Tijani Tumsah, has indicated interest to settle out of court.
The second defendant, a brother to the first defendant, was a member of the Presidential Committee on North East Initiative and a former Interim National Secretary of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
When the matter came up on Wednesday before Justice Nnamdi Dimgba of the Federal High Court, Abuja, the two brothers pleaded with the court to give them time to sort out issues with the prosecution.
Counsel to the first defendant, Abdul Mohammed, told the court that the process to settle out of court has started but has not been completed and sought for a short adjournment to enable parties to the case sort out issues, with a view to settling out of court.
He said, at the, “Last adjourned date in March, the first defendant indicated interest to settle out of court, we want a short adjournment to allow us to complete the process”, Mohammed said.
Prosecution counsel, Festus Keyamo (SAN), said the defendants have approached the prosecution for assets declaration form to complete the process, adding that, “Since the charges borders on failure to declare assets, we have obliged them, to complete the process”.
Meanwhile, the first defendant applied for leave of the court to travel abroad for medical attention, a request the court obliged.
The prosecution withdrew the assets forfeiture charge against the defendants and the court consequently struck it and adjourned till April 1, 2018, for the continuation of hearing in the matter.
Recalled that the duo was arraigned on February 8, 2018, on a two-count charge, to which they pleaded not guilty.
The charge, which was filed against them by the Chief Okoi Obono-Obla-led Special Presidential Investigation Panel on the Recovery of Public Property, disclosed that out of the 86 vehicles that were seized from the defendants, 23 of them were armoured and brand new.
Equally seized from the defendants were four houses and a quarry plant in Abuja.
Justice Muawiyah Idris of an Abuja High Court had, on December 6, 2017, ordered that the 86 luxurious vehicles, as well as the four houses and quarry plant in Kuje Abuja, should, in the interim, be forfeited to the government.
The forfeiture order equally affected four houses, two of which were located in Wuse II, one in Wuse Zone 7, and the other in Jabi, all in Abuja.
Eight containers with household items also seized by the panel from the 2nd defendant were also affected by the court order.
The 86 vehicles, the landed assets, and the other items were said to have been found on November 17, 2017, in a warehouse located at No 22 Igbani Street, Jabi, Abuja.
The presidential panel said it had received a petition that accused the defendants of complicity in acts of corruption and abuse of office.
The panel alleged that Tumsah, from whom the multi-million naira assets were seized, was on a monthly salary of less than N500,000, and yet acquired all the assets between 2016 and 2017.
Some of the seized assets were allegedly bought in the name of two companies- Integrated Service Insurance Ltd and Integrated Bureau De-Change Ltd- belonging to the defendants.
According to the charge marked FHC/ABJ/CR/4/2018, the defendants were accused of failing to declare their assets without reasonable excuse and upon a notice to declare them before the panel.
They were said to have committed an offence contrary to and punishable under section 3(3)(1)(a) of the Recovery of Public Property (Special Provision) Act 2004.
The two-count charges against them read: “That you, Ibrahim Musa Tumsah, M, and Tijani Musa Tumsah, M, on or about October 10 and 25, 2017 being public officers with the Federal Ministry of Power , Works and Housing, Abuja and the Presidential Committee on North-East Initiative Abuja respectively within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, committed an offence to wit: refusal to declare your assets without reasonable excuse and upon notice to declare your assets before the Special Presidential Investigation Panel for the Recovery of Public Property, Abuja, contrary to and punishable under 5. 3 (3) (1) (a) of the Recovery of Public Property (Special Provision) Act 2004.
“That you, Ibrahim Musa Tumsah, M, and Tijani Musa Tumsah, M, on or about October 10 and 25, 2017 being public officers with the Federal Ministry of Power , Works and Housing, Abuja and the Presidential Committee on North-East Initiative Abuja respectively within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, committed an offence to wit: neglect to declare your assets without reasonable excuse and upon the notice to declare your assets before the Special Presidential Investigation Panel for the Recovery of Public Property, Abuja, contrary to and punishable under Section 3(3)(1) (a) of the Recovery of Public property (special provision) Act 2004.”