Hadi Sirika’s absence stalls arraignment over ‘N19.4bn contract fraud’

The arraignment of Hadi Sirika, former aviation minister, over an alleged contract fraud has been stalled.


The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) filed a fresh eight-count charge against Sirika; Ahmad Abubakar, his brother; and Enginos Nigeria Limited, a company owned by Abubakar.


Sirika is alleged to have abused his office by awarding contracts worth ₦19.4 billion to Enginos Nigeria Limited.


The defendants were scheduled to be arraigned before a federal capital territory (FCT) high court in Abuja on Tuesday.


However, at the court session, the defendants were absent.


Oluwaleke Atolagbe, EFCC counsel, informed the court that the defendants were yet to be served with the charge.


He, therefore, prayed for an adjournment.


Suleiman Belgore, presiding judge, granted the adjournment request and fixed May 23 for the arraignment.


Sirika is already standing trial on a six-count charge bordering on the same offences.


He was arraigned on May 9 alongside Fatima, his daughter; Jalal Hamma, his son-in-law; and Al-Duraq Investment Limited; over an alleged N2.7 billion contract fraud.


All the defendants pleaded not guilty and were also granted bail in the sum of N100 million each.


Sirika was the aviation minister in the administration of former President Muhammadu Buhari from 2019 to 2023.


The anti-graft agency began investigating the alleged contract fraud against Sirika while he was still in office.


He also reportedly met with investigators at the time.


The EFCC had reportedly detained Sirika on April 23, pending his arraignment.


The case, which is before Sylvanus Oriji, a judge of an FCT high court, has been adjourned to June 10, 11, and 20 for trial.

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  1. Present and past governments lacks and once lacked the will power to prosecute crime to its logical conclusion but can widen the net to collect taxes more from the poor and vulnerable.


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