Court remands ex-PICOMSS chairman, Saliu Atawodi for alleged N620m fraud

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) yesterday arraigned the duo of Air Vice Marshal Saliu Atawodi (retd.), a former chairman, Presidential Implementation Committee on Maritime Safety and Security (PICOMSS), one Rabiu Hassan and his company, Hypertech Nigeria Limited, before Justice U. P. Kekemeke of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja on a three- count charge bordering on conspiracy, abuse of office and misappropriation of public funds.

They accused persons allegedly defrauded the government to the tune of over N600m through suspicious contracts to procure military boats.

One of the counts reads, ”That you, A.V.M. Saliu Atawodi (retd.), whilst serving as the Chairman of the Presidential Implementation Committee on Maritime Safety and Security (PICOMSS), Rabiu Hassan and Hypertech (Nig) Ltd on or about the 28th day of November, 2011 in Abuja within the jurisdiction of this Honourable court with intent to defraud did conspire to obtain property by false pretence to wit: the sum of Six Hundred and Twenty Million Nine Hundred and Ten Thousand Naira (N620,910,0000 , property of the Federal Government under the pretence that the money represents payment for the supply of six piece of K-38 Armored patrol boats to Presidential Implementation Committee on Maritime Safety and Security (PICOMSS) and which pretense you knew was false.”

The accused persons pleaded not guilty to the charges when they were read to them.

In view of their pleas, the prosecution counsel, Mohammed Bello, asked the court for a trial date.

However, counsels to the first defendant, Karina Tunyan prayed the court to grant his client bail pending his trial.

Also, counsel to the second defendant, Shareef Mohammed, urged the court to grant his client bail, maintaining that the defendant, whom he described as a whistle blower, had not jumped the administrative bail granted him by the Commission.

The prosecution counsel, however, had filed a counter affidavit to both bail applications, stating that, “I agree that the complainant granted an administrative bail to the defendants and they did not jump bail. However, it is because they do not know what they are up against and bail is at the discretion of the court.

”It is true that the second defendant is a whistleblower, but the EFCC is an investigating agency; it investigates to establish a prima facie case and a prima facie case was established against the second defendant from the proof of evidence.”

Justice Kekemeke adjourned to May 16, 2016 for ruling on the bail applications and ordered the defendants to be remanded in Kuje Prison.

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