Alleged N19.4bn fraud: Ex-Aviation minister Sirika, brother granted N200m bail

On Thursday, the Federal Capital Territory High Court, presided over by Justice Suleiman Belgore, granted bail to Hadi Sirika, the former Minister of Aviation, and his brother, Ahmad Abubakar Sirika.

The bail was set at N100 million each with two sureties, one of whom must own landed property in the Federal Capital Territory of equivalent value.

Justice Belgore stipulated that the accused cannot leave Nigeria without the court’s approval. In delivering the ruling, he maintained the same bail conditions previously set by Justice Sylvanus Oriji of the FCT High Court in Abuja.

Hadi Sirika and his brother, along with their company Enginos Nigeria Limited, face a ten-count charge of contract fraud totaling N19.4 billion. The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) accused Sirika of using his ministerial position to confer undue advantage on his brother and Enginos Nigeria Limited. The contracts in question were not completed, with no evidence of work done to date.

During the bail application hearing, Justice Belgore noted that the prosecution had not filed any counter-affidavit against Hadi Sirika. “He has met all bail conditions, has never been convicted of any criminal offense in Nigeria, and has an aged mother he is caring for. The investigation is complete,” he said. Consequently, the judge ruled in favor of granting bail.

Ahmad Abubakar Sirika’s bail was granted under the same terms and conditions as his brother’s. His lawyer, Mahmud Magaji (SAN), argued that Ahmad is a responsible citizen and a civil servant not politically exposed, emphasizing his compliance with previous administrative bail conditions.

EFCC counsel Oluwaleke Atolagbe did not object to the bail applications but insisted that the bail conditions should ensure the defendants’ availability for trial. The court set May 28 and 29 for the commencement of the trial.

The EFCC’s charges against the Sirika brothers and their company include awarding inflated contracts for various projects, such as the construction of a terminal building and the establishment of a fire truck maintenance center at Katsina Airport, as well as procurement contracts for the Aviation House in Abuja. These offenses are said to violate the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2000, and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (Establishment) Act, 2004.

Additionally, the EFCC accused Ahmad and Enginos Nigeria Limited of holding substantial sums of money in bank accounts, which allegedly represent the proceeds of criminal conduct by Hadi Sirika.

Previously, Hadi Sirika, his daughter Fatimah, and son-in-law Jalal Hamma were arraigned in connection with the Nigerian Air project, facing charges of fraud amounting to N2.7 billion. They pleaded not guilty and were granted bail totaling N300 million.

This case underscores the government’s ongoing efforts to address corruption and ensure accountability among public officials and their associates.

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