Thursday, January 20, 2022

Alleged N260m Fraud: EFCC presents another witness, closes case against ex-VC

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Ibrahim Ramalan
Ibrahim Ramalan is a graduate of Mass Communications from the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) Zaria. With nearly a decade-long, active journalism practice, Mr Ramalan has been able to rise from a cub reporter to the exalted position of an editor; first as Arts Editor with the Blueprint Newspapers before resigning in 2019; second and presently as an Associate Editor of the Daily Nigerian online newspaper. He can be reached via [email protected], or www.facebook.com/ibrahim.ramalana, or @McRamalan on Twitter.
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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on Tuesday, presented the fifth prosecution witnesses, in the ongoing trial of Prof. Magaji Garba, former Vice-Chancellor, Federal University, Gusau, before Justice Maryam Hassan-Aliyu of the Federal Capital Territory High Court, Jabi, Abuja.

Mr Garba was arraigned on a five-count charge, bordering on obtaining money by false pretense and forgery to the tune of over N260m.

The defendant allegedly extorted various sums from a contractor on the pretext of awarding him a N3 billion contract for the perimeter wall fencing of the University.

The offence is contrary to section 1 (1) (a) and punishable under section 1 (3) of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offenses Act, 2006.

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At today’s sitting, according to a statement by the EFCC spokesperson, Wilson Uwujaren, the witness, an investigating officer with the Commission, Inspector Mathias Hamawa, told the court that he was part of the team that investigated the case.

Mr Hamawa informed the Court that sometime in 2018, the defendant promised to award the complainant, a parameter wall fencing contract of Federal University, Gusau in the sum N3 billion, and demanded N250 million from the complainant through a third party, Engineer Aliyu Burka, a procurement officer of the University.

The witness further told the court that the dollar equivalent of N250m was given to the defendant.

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“At that time my lord, no contract of any nature was given to Ministaco Nigeria Limited. Realizing that the tenure of the VC would elapse by February, 2021 and there was still no sign of any contract coming through, the complainant, Alhaji Shehu Umar Sambo petitioned the EFCC,” he said.

Upon receiving the petition, he said the EFCC swung into action by contacting the University, Federal Ministry of Education, and Tertiary Education Trust Fund to determine whether they were aware of the purported contract. All responded, denying knowledge of the said contract.

The letters written to the various institutions of government were tendered in evidence and admitted as exhibit 6a, 6b, and 6c.

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While cross examining the witness, the defence counsel, S.M Imam sought to know how much the EFCC recovered from the defendant. “I can’t really remember, but it is around N130m,” the witness said.

At the end of the cross examination, the prosecuting counsel, Sylvanus Tahir informed the court of his intention to not call any more witnesses.

The defence on their other hand, indicated its intention to move a no case submission, arguing that the prosecution has failed to establish the ingredient of the offence to warrant his client opening his defence.

Justice Aliyu adjourned the case until February 10, 2022.

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