Arraignment of Ex-Aviation Minister Sirika Stalled Over N19.4 Billion Fraud Charges

Former Nigerian Aviation Minister Hadi Sirika is facing corruption charges related to a N19.4 billion airport contract scam, but his arraignment was stalled due to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission's (EFCC) failure to serve him with a copy of the charge. The case, set to commence on May 23, involves allegations of contract fraud and abuse of power in Nigeria's aviation sector." This description focuses on the primary topic of the article (corruption charges against Hadi Sirika), the main entities involved (Sirika, EFCC, and Enginos Nigeria Limited), the context of the aviation sector in Nigeria, and the significant action of the stalled arraignment. The description also provides objective and relevant details that will help an AI generate an accurate visual representation of the article's content, such as a courtroom scene with Sirika and EFCC officials, or an image of an airport with a red "corruption" stamp overlaid.

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Aqsa Younas Rana
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Arraignment of Ex-Aviation Minister Sirika Stalled Over N19.4 Billion Fraud Charges

Arraignment of Ex-Aviation Minister Sirika Stalled Over N19.4 Billion Fraud Charges

The arraignment of former Nigerian Aviation Minister Hadi Sirika on corruption charges related to a N19.4 billion airport contract scam was stalled on Tuesday due to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission's (EFCC) failure to serve him with a copy of the charge. Sirika, his brother Ahmad, and Enginos Nigeria Limited were scheduled to appear before an Abuja High Court sitting at Garki, but none of the defendants were present.

Why this matters: The outcome of this trial could have significant implications for accountability and transparency in Nigeria's aviation sector, as well as set a precedent for tackling corruption in government contracts. It also highlights the need for effective oversight and enforcement mechanisms to prevent abuse of power and mismanagement of public funds.

The prosecution counsel, Oluwaleke Atolagbe, informed the trial judge, Suleiman Belgore, that the defendants had not been served with the charge. "The defendants are not in court. They are not able to make it to the court this morning, but they have not been served and are not within Abuja and could not make it into town this morning," Atolagbe stated. The matter was adjourned until May 23.

Sirika faces an eight-count charge related to several aviation ministry contracts awarded to Enginos Nigeria Limited, a company owned by his brother Ahmad, between April 2022 and March 2023 in Abuja. The EFCC alleges that Sirika used his position to confer unfair advantages upon the company, influencing the award of contracts worth billions of naira.

The contracts in question include N1.345 billion for the construction of a terminal building at Katsina Airport, N3.811 billion for the establishment of a Fire Truck Maintenance and Refurbishment Centre at Katsina Airport, and N615 million for the procurement and installation of lifts, air conditioners, and power generators for the Aviation House in Abuja. Sirika is also accused of possessing an aggregate sum of N2.337 billion, which the EFCC alleges represents the proceeds of criminal conduct.

This is the second criminal charge filed against Sirika, who was previously arraigned for N2.7 billion fraud before the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory in Abuja. In that case, Sirika pleaded not guilty alongside his daughter Fatima, son-in-law Jalal Hamma, and Al-Duraq Investment Limited. They were each granted bail in the sum of N100 million.

The EFCC had earlier arrested and detained Sirika's younger brother, Abubakar, in connection with N3.212 billion paid to his company's bank account by the former minister. As the investigation into the alleged contract fraud continues, the delay in arraigning Sirika and his co-defendants raises questions about the EFCC's preparedness in pursuing the high-profile case. The outcome of the trial, now set to commence on May 23, could have significant implications for accountability and transparency in Nigeria's aviation sector.

Key Takeaways

  • Ex-Nigerian Aviation Minister Hadi Sirika faces corruption charges over N19.4 billion airport contract scam.
  • Sirika's arraignment stalled due to EFCC's failure to serve him with a copy of the charge.
  • The case involves 8 counts of corruption, including contract awards to his brother's company, Enginos Nigeria Limited.
  • Sirika is accused of possessing N2.337 billion, allegedly proceeds of criminal conduct.
  • The trial is adjourned until May 23, with implications for accountability and transparency in Nigeria's aviation sector.