N1.1bn fraud: Trial of ex-Customs CG Abdullahi Dikko begins tomorrow 

Abdullahi Dikko

The trial of former Comptroller-General of Customs, Dikko Inde Abdullahi, and two others — Garba Bala Makarfi and Umar A. Husain — for an alleged N1.1 billion fraud by the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC) on will commence at the Federal High Court, Abuja tomorrow. 

Makarfi was Assistant Comptroller-General, Finance, Administration and Technical Services of the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) when the offences were allegedly committed, while Hussain, a lawyer, is said to own Capital Law Office.

The trio will be arraigned before Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu of the Federal High Court, Abuja on a 10-count charge bordering on alleged fraud and obtaining by false pretence, among others.

Justice Ojukwu chose May 23 when, on May 9, prosecuting counsel Henry Emore, informed the court that all the defendants had not been served with the charge.

He sought time to effect service on them.

Dikko, Makarfi and Hussain were accused of defrauding a real estate firm Cambial Limited of N1,100,952,380.96 using their offices.

In 2010, the NCS was said to have bought a housing estate in Kuje, Abuja, comprising 120 units of duplexes from Cambial Limited at N4.8billion.

Beside allegedly deducting N819,047,619.04 as legal fees, agency fees, Value Added Tax (VAT) and Withholding Tax, Dikko and Makarfi were said to have asked Cambial Ltd to pay the N1,100,952,380.96 into Hussain’s law firm’s account in Stanbic-IBTC:7200057379 as “security for the completion of works in the estate,” before the firm could access what was left of N4.8 billion paid by the NCS into its (Cambial’s) Zenith Bank account.

In counts six, seven and eight, Hussain was said to have “entered a deal with Dikko and Makarfi” to transfer N250million to Abys Motors Ltd’s account in GTBank, N486 million to Hasbunallah BDC Ltd and to withdraw N260 million from the N1,100,952,380.96, which they allegedly obtained from Cambial by false pretence.

Makarfi was, in count nine, said to have received “an aggregate of  $3million which was delivered to you in cash by Abdullahi Usman Musa, a representative of Hasbunallah BDC Ltd,” which formed part of the N1,100,952,380.96

He was, in count 10, accused of making false statement to ICPC’s investigator by claiming that he agreed to receive the N1,100,952,380.96 into his firm’s account “as a favour to Dikko and Makarfi, because he believed the money was death benefit on behalf of an unnamed deceased family friend.”

In one of the counts, Dikko, Makarfi and Hussain were said to have “on or about the 6th of April 2010, by false pretence and with intent to defraud, conspired with each other to induce one Mr. Yemi Obadeyi, Managing Director of Cambial Limited, to pay the sum of N1,100,952,380.96 into the account of Capital Law Office, a private law firm owned by Umar Hussain  under the pretext that the said sum was required as a refundable ‘completion security deposit’ in respect of the contract  for the purchase of 120 units of duplexes as residential accommodation for of the Nigerian Customs Service.”

The alleged offence is contrary to and punishable under the Advance Fee Fraud end Other Fraud Related Offences Act 2006 and Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act 2000.