By Vivian Okejeme, Abuja
Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu of the Federal High Court in Abuja, yesterday, issued a bench warrant of arrest against the former Comptroller General of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Abdullahi Inde Dikko, for refusing to appear in court.
The judge gave the order following the defendant’ counsel, Solomon Akuma(SAN) failure to produce him in court as agreed on the last adjourned date, instead, the counsel presented a medical report, claiming Dikko was critically ill and on administration in London.
Justice Ojukwu noted that Dikko’s address, as shown on the medical report No: N6 Amhed Musa Crescent Jabi, Abuja, did not support his lawyer’s claim that Dikko was on admission in a London hospital.
However, the court noted that should the prosecution, in executing the bench warrant discovers that Dikko is actually on admission in a London hospital, the execution shall be suspended, otherwise, the prosecution should arrest Dikko and produce him in court on March 16, 2020.
“This Court is of the view that a warrant of arrest should be issued against the first defendant who gave his address as 6 Ahmadu Musa Street Jabi district Abuja but claimed he is in London.”
“This order would assist the prosecution authenticate the defendant’s claim and if it is found that the defendant is critically ill in London Hospital the order of warrant of arrest will abate”, the judge added.
Justice Ojukwu observed that on December 10, 2019 the First Defendant Counsel had informed the court that his client was in Dubia the United Arab Emirate attending to his health and that he will bring him to Court personally to Court.
However, today, he turned round presenting a medical report that the first defendant is in London and in a such health condition that he could not be in the plane to the Court.
The court held the defendant (Dikko ) should be brought to Court on March 16, 2020 for arraignment over alleged fraud by the prosecuting agency the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC).
The former Comptroller General of the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) Abdullahi Dikko was to be arraigned yesterday, along with Garba Makarfi, former Assistant Comptroller-General of
Customs in charge of Finance, Administration and Technical Services and Umar Hussaini, a lawyer.
Dikko had been completely absent in court on two previous adjournments on December 10, 2019 and January 14, 2020, while Garba Makarfi and Hussain were in court.
The trio was accused of inducing one Yemi Obadeyi to pay the total sum of N1,100, 952,380.96 into the account of Capital Law Office (a company belonging to Hussaini) for the purchase of 120 units of duplexes as residential accommodation for officers of the Nigeria Customs Service.
Specifically, Hussaini was said to have distributed the money into various other bank accounts and for his part in the deal, he was rewarded with the sum of $3 million.
According to the affidavit deposed to by Ephraim Otti, ICPC’s legal officer, the illegal activities of Dikko and his co-accused were contrary sections of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2000; Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act 2006, and Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 (as amended).
Recall that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had recovered several luxury vehicles from a warehouse which the commission said was owned by Dikko.
In another operation by the EFCC on another of Dikko’s properties, several units of tricycles, motorcycles, buses, and rug carpets were also recovered.
In June 2016, Dikko was arrested and queried by the EFCC. He surrendered himself to the anti-graft agency after months of being outside the country.
Dikko was said to have acquired a N2 billion mansion in the Jabi district of Abuja. Another N2.6billion was also said to have been withdrawn from the account of the Nigeria Customs and paid into several bank accounts belonging to companies allegedly floated by a former Assistant Comptroller General who served under Dikko.
Later, in November 2016, the EFCC through its then spokesperson told the media that Dikko had returned N1 billion to the federal government coffers.
Meanwhile, a corruption case filed against Dikko before Justice Binta Nyako of the federal high court is still ongoing, but the EFCC had written to the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court asking for all cases involving the commission to be withdrawn from Justice Nyako, as her husband, former Governor of Adamawa State, Murtala Nyako, is also being prosecuted by the commission.