N1.1bn alleged fraud: Court dismisses charge against ex-Customs boss Dikko
• We cannot locate him - ICPC
A Federal High Court in Abuja on Wednesday, dismissed a charge of fraud preferred against former Comptroller General of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Abdullahi Inde Dikko and two others by the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC).
The trial judge, Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu, in a ruling in the matter, dismissed the charge marked: FHC/ABJ/CR/21/2019 following an oral application by the counsel to ICPC, E. A. Sogunle to withdraw the charge under Section 108 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) 2015.
Sogunle told the court that despite a bench warrant issued on the former customs boss, who has not attended court since the charge was filed early last year, the prosecution has been unable to arrest him and produce him in court.
Dikko was named with 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.
Dikko and his codefendants were, among others, accused of inducing the Managing Director of Cambial Limited, Yemi Obadeyi, to pay the sum of N1,100, 952,380.96 into the account of Capital Law Office as a refundable “completion security deposit” 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 allegedly at the instance of the ex-Customs boss.
The prosecution added that, for his part in the deal, Hussaini was rewarded with $3 million.
When the case was called on Wednesday, Sogunle told the court that, despite a bench warrant issued on Dikko, who has not attended court since the charge was filed early last year, the prosecution has been unable to arrest him and produce him in court.
He said, at the last adjourned date, Dikko was conspicuously absent and the court-mandated the prosecution to investigate his whereabouts.
“In our effort to do this, we wrote to the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS), who replied that they have no record of the 1st defendant (Dikko) either travelling in or outside of Nigeria between January 2020 and till date.
“In the circumstances, we have filed an affidavit of compliance with the court’s directive that we find out his whereabouts. This affidavit is to show the steps we have taken so far.
“We do not want to clog the court’s docket with this matter. We are convinced that the 1st defendant is a fugitive from law. We are taking every step to apprehend him. When we do that, we will bring him before the court.
“In the circumstance, we wish to withdraw the charge, pursuant to Section 108 of ACJA, without prejudice to whenever he is apprehended,” Sogunle said.
Responding, Solomon Akuma (SAN), who led Mahmud Magaji (SAN) for Dikko, did not object to the prosecution’s application to withdraw the charge.
Yakubu Maikyau (SAN) and A. H Obariko, who appeared for Makarfi and Hussaini, also did not object to the application to withdraw.
While Makarfi was in court, Hussaini was absent and his counsel said he could not make his way to Abuja from Bauchi in view of the current restriction of inter-state. movement.
The trial judge, Justice Ojukwu, after listening to submissions of counsel in the matter, dismissed the charge against Dikko, since the prosecution’s application for withdrawal of the said charge was not opposed by the defendants.
The judge had, on February 17, 2020, upon an application by the prosecution, issued a bench warrant for Dikko’s arrest and production for the purpose of his arraignment and further ordered the prosecution to ascertain the claim by Dikko’s lawyer that he was on admission in a London hospital.
It was in response to the court’s order that the prosecution ascertain whether or not Dikko was in a London hospital that Sogunle reported yesterday that the NIS informed his agency that the ex-custom boss has not travelled out of the country since this year.
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