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N19.4bn ‘fraud’: Sirika, brother arraigned, granted bail

Former Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika and his brother, Ahmad Sirika, have been arraigned before an FCT High Court over corruption charges.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had filed a 10-count charge against the Sirikas for an alleged contract fraud valued at N19.4 billion.

The EFCC alleged that the minister awarded the sums in contracts to Enginos Nigeria Ltd said to belong to his younger brother, Abubakar Sirika.

However, both former minister and his brother pleaded not guilty to the charges.

The presiding judge, Justice Suleiman Belgore granted them bail in the terms earlier made in a sister case pending in another FCT High Court.

In the previous case, Sirika was arraigned alongside his daughter, Fatima Hadi Sirika, his son-in-law, Jalal Sule Hamma and Al Buraq Global Investment Ltd.

The trial judge, Sylvanus Oriji granted them bail in the sum of N100m and sureties in like sum.

The judge had further ordered the ex-minister to provide sureties with landed property and certificate of occupancy signed by the FCT minister.

The judge ordered the defendants not to travel out of the country without the court’s express permission.

In the present charge, the EFCC alleged that Sirika conferred corrupt advantage on Enginos Nigeria Ltd whose altar ego is his blood brother, Ahmad Abubakar Sirika to influence the award of contract for construction of Terminal Building and the establishment of Fire Truck Maintenance and Refurbishment Centre at Katsina Airport for the sums of N1.3 billion and N3.8 billion respectively.

He was further alleged to have influenced the award of the procurement and installation of Lift and Air Conditioners and Power Generators for Aviation House worth N615.1 million.

The EFCC further alleged that Ahmad Sirika between June 2022 and October 2023, received the sum of N29.9m from Tianaero Nigeria Ltd which sum he and his biological brother, who was the aviation minister, knew represented proceeds of criminal conduct.

Furthermore, the anti-graft agency alleged that Ahmad Sirika, who is a public servant and employee of the Federal Ministry of Water Resources, and Samaha Integrated Investment ls Ltd between June 2022 and October 2023, corruptly received an aggregate of N29,975,113.54 from Tianaero Nigeria Ltd, a company awarded consultancy contract fir the Nigerian Air startup and extension N1,326,731,470.97 (One billion, three hundred and twenty six million, seven hundred and thirty one thousand, four hundred and seventy naira and ninety seven kobo).

The EFCC say the offences violated the provisions of Section 315 of the Penal Code Act, CAP 352 Act of the FCT, Section 17(b) of the EFCC Act, Section 8 of the Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Act, 2000.

Meanwhile, Justice Belgore has fixed May 28 for hearing of the case.