The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC April 7, 2014 arraigned duo of Mohammed Bello Abubakar and Abubakar Abdullahi Ahmed, Permanent Secretary and Deputy Director of Sokoto State Ministry of Education respectively before Justice Rilwan Aikawa of the Fed High Court, Sokoto.
Abubakar and Ahmed were docked on a 43-count charge bordering on conspiracy, forgery and money laundering.
The suspects who are both civil servants are alleged to be living above their means as the extent of their assets is not supported by their legitimate sources of income. Abubakar is said to own 5 companies -Rose Gallery Nigeria Limited, Silver Spring Concept, Gidadawa Global Ventures, BAG Interiors and Eco Habitat Nigeria Limited with various bank accounts. The suspect also has properties at various locations across Sokoto State.
One of the charge reads, “that you Abubakar Ahmed while being the Director of Finance, Ministry of Local Government and Community Development, Sokoto State and Sitex Multi Service Limited, on or about the 9th day of September 2009 at the Sokoto Judicial Division of the Federal High Court of Nigeria, did transfer the sum of sixty nine million naira (N69million) from Sokoto State Joint Account into Sitex Multi Service Limited account number 0037193066 in Ecobank Plc with the aim of disguising the illicit origin of the said sum of forty million, eight hundred and seventy five thousand seven hundred and fifty four naira (N40, 875, 754) so as to evade the consequences of your action and thereby committed an offence punishable under section 14 of the Money Laundering ( Prohibition)Act 2004.”
Another count reads,
“That you, Mohammed Bello Abubakar while being the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry for Local Government and Community Development, Sokoto State, Abubakar Abdullahi Ahmed while being the Deputy Director Ministry for Local Government and Community Development, Sokoto State and Rose Gallery Nigeria Limited on or about the 6th day of May, 2008 at Sokoto Judicial Division of the Federal High Court of Nigeria did collaborate in disguising the illegal origin of the sum of two million, five hundred thousand naira (N2,500,000.00) into Rose Gallery Nigeria Limited account number 351337760120 with Guaranty Trust Bank Plc and thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 14 of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2004. ”
The accused persons pleaded not guilty to all 43 count charge when it was read to them.
Upon their plea, counsel to EFCC, I.O Uket urged the court to fix a date for trial and remand the accused persons in prison custody.
However, the defence counsel, Y.C Maikyau, SAN prayed the court to admit the accused persons to bail saying that the alleged offences for which they are being prosecuted are bailable. Maikyau said that both accused persons had been granted administrative bail by the Commission and have not jump bail.
Maikyau further told the court that the first accused person, Abubakar is a diabetic patient who is presently on medication and requires regular check-up to monitor his blood sugar level. He therefore urged the court to admit his clients to bail assuring that they are ready to make themselves available for trial.
While opposing the bail application, Uket told the court that the accused persons, if admitted to bail, are likely to interfere with witnesses. The prosecution added that, though bail is at the discretion of the court, diabetes is a common ailment which can easily be treated in prison should the accused person be remanded in prison custody. He therefore urged the court to refuse the application.
After listening to the arguments of both counsel, Justice Aikawa granted bail to the accused persons in the sum of N10m each and one surety in like sum. The surety must not be below the rank of a Director in Sokoto State Civil Service. The accused persons are to deposit their international passports with court and to be reporting to EFCC every first Monday of a new month till the end of trial.
The judge however struck out the application in respect of the release of the properties of the first accused person seized by EFCC during investigation as prayed by the defence and consequently adjourned the case to May 20 and 21, 2014 for trial to commence.