By Dwelleth Morountodun
The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) has told Barr. Umar Hussaini, a private solicitor and friend to the late Comptroller General of Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Mr. Inde Dikko Abdullahi that he has a case to answer.
Hussaini, who has been charged by the Commission, is standing trial before Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu of the Federal High Court, Abuja over his alleged complicity in inducing the Managing Director of Cambial Limited, Mr. Yemi Obadeyi, who was the complainant, to pay N1.1 billion into the account of Capital Law Office on the 6th of march 2010, as refundable “completion security deposit” for the procurement of 120 units of houses as residential accommodation for officers of Nigeria Customs.
Mrs. Azuka Ogugua, Spokesperson for the Commission, in a statement made available to the media over the weekend, said the defendant had filed a “No Case Submission” before the court arguing that the said sum paid into the account of Capital Law Office was induced by the deceased former Comptroller General and a former Deputy Comptroller General, Garba Bala Makarfi who instructed Mr. Obadeyi to pay the money into his account.
The accused person also argued that he was neither a party to the contract for the sale of 120 unit of houses for officers of NCS nor was he present when the late former Customs boss was discussing the payment of the money into his account with the Managing Director of Cambial Limited.
He therefore told the court that he could not be held culpable for inducing the payment of the money into the account of his private law firm as charged because the prosecution knew who the real culprits were but refused to prosecute them.
Responding, counsel to ICPC, Mr. Ephraim Otti, urged the court to dismiss the prayers of the defendant and order him to explain why he pretended to be an external solicitor to the NCS when he knew that he was not.
He pointed at the evidence of prosecution witnesses which proved that the defendant was present when he was being introduced as an external solicitor to the NCS and he did not deny it and even went ahead to provide account details of his private law firm to the complainant.
According to Ogugua, the prosecution counsel submitted that it was this false pretense that induced the complainants to deposit the funds into the account of the defendant’s private law firm because the complainant believed that the defendant was acting on behalf of the NCS.
ICPC, further urged the court to consider the exhibits that proved that the defendant was only a private friend and solicitor to the late former Customs boss, in which he admitted in his voluntary statement that he had returned a portion of the money to the complainant and had used some other portions of the money to register some companies and acquire properties which the defendant managed in his own name on behalf of the deceased.
Counsel added that the prosecution had sufficiently linked the defendant to the alleged offences with prima facie evidence and he should be required to explain his relationship with NCS that warranted such payment made into the account of his private law firm.
The case is slated for further hearing on 28th of April, 2022.
Signed: Mrs. Azuka Ogugua, Spokesperson, ICPC