Court imposes travel ban on ex-Aviation minister Hadi Sirika, daughter amid N2.7bn fraud trial

Court imposes travel ban on ex-Aviation minister Hadi Sirika, daughter amid N2.7bn fraud trial

The Federal Capital Territory High Court in Abuja, on Thursday, May 9, imposed travel restrictions on the former Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, hi

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The Federal Capital Territory High Court in Abuja, on Thursday, May 9, imposed travel restrictions on the former Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, his daughter Fatimah, and son-in-law Jalal Hamma.

The court’s decision comes in light of their ongoing trial for alleged involvement in a N2.7 billion fraud case.

Justice Sylvanus Orji issued the ruling, stating, “They must not leave the country pending the conclusion of their trial.”

They face charges brought forth by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), comprising six counts related to the alleged fraud.

The charges against them include accusations of abusing office by awarding a N1.3 billion consultancy contract for the Nigerian Air Start-up to Tianero Nigeria Limited and conferring unfair advantage upon Al Buraq Global Investment Limited, a company linked to Sirika’s daughter and son-in-law.

The EFCC alleges that Sirika violated various sections of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2000.

During the court proceedings, the defendants pleaded not guilty to the charges. After a bail application by their defense counsel, Chief Kanu Agabi (SAN), the court granted each defendant bail in the sum of N100 million with two sureties of the same amount.

One of the sureties must possess landed property within the Federal Capital Territory and depose to an affidavit of means.

In addition to the bail conditions, Justice Orji mandated that the defendants must not travel outside the country without prior permission.

Failure to meet these conditions would result in their remand in a correctional facility.

The trial dates were set for June 10, 11, and 20.

Sirika and his daughter including his son-in-law, Jalal Sule Hamma, and a firm, Al Buraq Global Investment Limited, were arraigned before a High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) on Thursday for alleged fraud involving N4.135 billion.

The defendants pleaded not guilty to the charges and were granted bail in the sum of N100 million each with two sureties. The court stipulated that the sureties must have landed properties in Abuja and be responsible citizens. Additionally, they must depose to an affidavit of means. The court also restricted the defendants from travelling abroad without their permission.

Justice Slyvanus Oriji ordered that the defendants be remanded in prison custody if they failed to meet their bail conditions.

Sirika and his co-defendants were charged with alleged consultancy contract fraud for Nigerian Air (N1,326,731,670.97), alleged corruption related to the contract for Apron Extension at Katsina Airport (N1,498,300,750.00), and alleged gratification (N1,310,142,051.16).

The prosecution alleged that the fraudulent acts were committed between April 2022 and March 2023. The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) stated that the offences contravene Sections 12 and 19 of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act 2000, Section 17(b) of the EFCC (Establishment) Act, 2004, and Section 315 of the Penal Code Act, Cap 532 Acts of the Federal Capital Territory.

The EFCC accused Sirika of conferring undue advantage on certain entities between April 2022 and March 2023 in Abuja. He allegedly abused his office by awarding a N1.3 billion consultancy contract for the Nigerian Air start-up to Tianero Nigeria Limited, violating Section 19 of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2000.

The specific charges against Sirika and his co-defendants are as follows:

Charge 1:

“That you – Hadi Abubakar Sirika – while being the Minister of Aviation between April 2022 and March 2023, in Abuja within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, did use your position to confer unfair advantage upon Tianaero Nigeria Limited, whose alter ego Prof. Gabriel Tilmann, is your Associate by using your position to influence the award to them, the consultancy contract for the Nigerian Air Start-up and extension of same for the sum of N1,326,731,670.97 and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 19 of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act 2000 and punishable under the same section.”

Charge 2:

“That you – Hadi Abubakar Sirika while being the Minister of Aviation on or about 16th August 2022 in Abuja within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court did use your position to confer unfair advantage upon Al Buraq Global Investment Limited whose alter ego Fatima Hadi Sirika and Jalal Sule Hamma are your daughter and son-in-law respectively by using your position to influence the award to them, the contract for the Apron Extension at Katsina Airport, for the sum of N1,498,300,750.00 and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 19 of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2000 and punishable under the same section.”

Charge 3:

“That you Hadi Abubakar Sirika, while being the Minister of Aviation and in such capacity as a public officer on or about 18th August 2022 in Abuja within the jurisdiction of the Honourable Court entrusted with certain property to wit the sum of N1,498,300,750.00 committed criminal breach of trust in respect of the said property by being dishonestly connected with the illegal award of contract for the Apron Extension at Katsina Airport, to and for the benefit of Al Buraq Global Investment Limited whose alter ego are Fatima Hadi Sirika and Jalal Sule Hamma, your daughter and son-in-law respectively and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 315 of the Penal Code Act, Cap 532 Acts of the Federal Capital Territory and punishable under the same section.”

Charge 4:

“That you – Hadi Abubakar Sirika – while being the Minister of Aviation, Fatima Hadi Sirika while being a public servant and an employee of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Ltd and Jalal Sule Hamma while being a public servant and an employee of Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission on or about 18th August 2022 in Abuja within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, did knowingly hold indirectly private interests in the contract for the Apron Extension at Katsina Airport for the sum of N1,498,300,750 00 awarded to Al Buraq Global Investment Limited whose alter ego are Fatima Hadi Sirika and Jalal Sule Hamma, your daughter and son-in-law respectively which contract was awarded on account of public service and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 12 of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2000 and punishable under the same section.”

It is important to note that Sirika was arrested and questioned by the EFCC in April 2023 before being charged with six counts of corruption.