Fraud allegations: EFCC tightens noose on Malami, Sirika, Farouq-Umar

Close allies of former President Muhammadu Buhari who served in his administration as ministers, have come under the radar of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), over alleged multi-billion-naira fraud allegations.

The EFCC, Saturday Sun has gathered, is zeroing in on key ones who have been on the anti-graft agency’s watch list for multiple allegations.

Some of the top ministers under the EFCC radar, are believed to have fled the country to evade arrest and possible prosecution by the EFCC.

According to top EFCC sources, former Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, and his counterpart, who served as minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, are among top former ministers being trailed by the EFCC.

The two ministers were among the most powerful during Buhari’s reign and were named in many multi-billion-naira cases while they were in office.

Close allies and relatives of the former ministers have already been arrested and quizzed by operatives of the EFCC. Their assets and bank accounts linked to what the EFCC believes to be questionable sources, have also been placed under close monitoring.

According to a source, Malama’s case appears to be more severe. There have been four petitions against him since he left office in May 2023.

According to one of the petitions, Malami is being investigated for distributing 30 car gifts worth over N1billion to his supporters in Kebbi State, ahead of the 2023 general elections.

“The car gifts included 14 Mercedes Benz, eight Prado SUVs, four Toyota Hilux and four Lexus LX. Beneficiaries of the car gifts were social media influencers, executive members of Malami’s foundation and women support groups,” one of the petitions read.

In another petition, he was accused of illegally auctioning sea vessels holding crude oil seized by the Federal Government, violating Section 31(2) and (4) of the EFCC Act 2004 and assuming the role conferred on the EFCC. Malami came into the limelight following his appointment by Buhari in 2015. He allegedly duplicated payment of $16.9 million fees to two individuals who are said to be friends as new lawyers for the recovery of the loot traced to a former Nigerian Head of State, Gen. Sani Abacha, after a Swiss lawyer, Enrico Monfrini, hired and fully paid by the previous government to help in the recovery, had completed his brief.

Another allegation was the payment of $496 million to Global Steel Holdings Ltd (GSHL) as settlement for the termination of the Ajaokuta Steel concession nine years after the Indian company had waved all.

Malami is also accused of singlehandedly selling assets worth billions of naira forfeited to the EFCC by politically exposed persons.

The petitions noted his role in the $419 million judgment debt awarded to consultants who claimed to have facilitated the Paris Club refunds to the states.

“The strange agreement to pay Sunrise Power $200 million compensation in its dispute with the federal government over the Mambilla Power project is another issue the EFCC should look at. The duplicated legal fees in the transfer of $321 million Abacha loot from Switzerland to Nigeria is also there,” the petitioners claimed.

There are also several petitions against former Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika. In 2017, the minister was said to have spent $600,000 on logo design contracted to a Bahraini company before the project, then known as Air Nigeria, was suspended.

The Buhari administration later budgeted up to N800 million between 2017 and 2018 when the execution of the project resumed.

Sirika was also under scrutiny for spending N12 billion to purchase 10 fire trucks, with the cost of each of the trucks put at N1.2 billion.

Abubakar Ahmad Sirika, immediate younger brother to the former minister, was recently arrested by operatives of the EFCC. While in office as minister, Sirika was accused of conspiracy, abuse of office, diversion of public funds, contract inflation, criminal breach of trust and money laundering amounting to N8,069,176,864. According to the EFCC, the sum is for four aviation contracts from the former minister to a company known as Engirios Nigeria Limited, owned by his younger brother.

Also, Saturday Sun reliably gathered that the EFCC is concluding plans to charge the pioneer Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Umar-Farouq, upon conclusion of the ongoing investigations.

Other top directors and staff of the ministry are also expected to be charged alongside the former minister. However, EFCC spokesman, Dele Oyewale couldn’t be reached for reaction at the time of filling this report.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top