N2.7bn Fraud: EFCC First Witness Testifies In Sirika Trial

Former Minister of Aviation, Sen. Hadi Sirika

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission on Monday presented its first witness in the N2.7 billion contract fraud trial of Hadi Sirika; his daughter, Fatima; his Son-in-law, Jalal Hamma, and Al-Buraq Investment Limited.

Led in evidence by EFCC lead counsel, Rotimi Jacobs, the subpoenaed witness, a former director of Procurement, Federal Ministry of Aviation, Azubuike Okorie, informed Justice Sylvanus Oriji, of the Federal Capital Territory High Court Abuja, that the N1.4 billion Apron Extension contract at Katsina Airport was not executed as of the time he left civil service in May 23, 2023.

Okorie said, “As of the time I left civil service on May 23, 2023, the contract was not executed, to the best of my knowledge.”

The witness also said while serving as Special Assistant to the Minister, Projects between 2022-2023, and Chairman, Project Implementation Committee at the time, they were responsible for monitoring and evaluating projects to ensure their execution.

According to him, Al-Buraq was one of the awardees for the project at Kastina Airport.
He told the court that when his committee visited the state for project monitoring and implementation at the airport, Al-Buraq contractors and other contractors were not on the ground.

“When we got there(Kastina Airport), we had a list of other contractors who were supposed to be on the ground including Al-Buraq. My lord, we did not find any of them on site then,” he added.

He explained that before a contract was awarded, the user agency, the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria, would have secured land where the project would be sited through a certificate of occupancy.

The witness stated that his committee had interactions with the Commissioner, Lands, Kastina State who had informed them then that “because of the conflict between the Nigerian Air Force and Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria, they were not able to secure the land at that time and so the contractors could not go to site.”

He further testified that he was only aware of the 30 per cent mobilization fee paid to the company in dispute and could not confirm if a 100 per cent payment was made to Al-Buraq.

“As Chairman, Project Implementation Committee, I was not involved in payments.
“Payments are made in stages until a contractor finishes the contract,” he said as Rotimi Jacobs told the judge that the subpoenaed witness was done with his testimony.

The defendants’ counsel, led by Kanu Agabi, asked the court for an adjournment till tomorrow for cross-examination because they needed time to study the documents EFCC relied on during the witness’s testimony.

The court subsequently adjourned till Tuesday, June 11, 2024, for the continuation of the trial.

Hadi Sirika, his daughter and son-in-law are facing a six-count amended criminal charge of contract fraud to the tune of N2.7bn.

Sirika was accused of using his position to confer undue advantage on his daughter, son-in-law and company.

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