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Alleged N44.5m Fraud Against CCT chair, Mere Suspicion –AGF

John Ameh, Abuja

The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, said on Tuesday that the Chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal, Justice Danladi Umar, had not been prosecuted for alleged fraudulent practices owing to lack of sufficient evidence.

Malami was speaking in respect of the N44.5m fraud allegation levelled against Umar by a non-governmental organisation, Anti-Corruption Network.

The AGF made the position of his office known when he appeared before the House of Representatives, Committee on Public Petitions in Abuja.

The committee, which is chaired by a Peoples Democratic Party lawmaker from Abia State, Mr. Uzoma Nkem-Abonta, was assigned the responsibility of investigating the allegation by the House.

The AGF, who confirmed that his office received the petition, explained that the first reaction was the “presumption of innocence” until the CCT chairman was found guilty.

He argued that the presumption of innocence was a right guaranteed under Section 36 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).

Malami disclosed that the matter was referred to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission to investigate and submit its findings to his office.

He added that upon concluding its investigation, the anti-graft agency turned in a report, which indicated that the allegations by the Anti-Corruption network were based on “mere suspicions.”

The minister added, “The facts as they are show that the petition against Justice Umar was based on mere suspicions, which are not sufficient to prosecute him.

“It, therefore, became difficult for any prosecution because of lack of material facts, looking at the facts provided by the EFCC.”

When the CCT chairman was asked whether the allegations contained in the petition were true, Umar replied, “We deny every single item in the petition as submitted by the petitioner.”

However, the Executive Secretary of the network, Mr. Ajulo Ajulo, insisted that Umar indeed committed the alleged acts.

Ajulo charged the House committee to thoroughly investigate the allegations by calling for the original copies of certain vital documents from the CCT.

“Mr. Chairman, they should provide the original copy of their capital vote book; advance payment book; and other vouchers from 2011 to date,”, he said.

When asked whether the network was registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission, Ajulo replied in the affirmative.

He was directed to forward the certificate of registration to the committee.

On his part, the committee asked the AGF to provide further documents to prove that the EFCC conducted a though investigation into the allegation.

This came as some members observed that there were “several administrative errors” on the documents submitted by the CCT in its defence of Umar.

The committee later adjourned the case.

Among the allegations in the network’s petition to the House was that Umar paid N1m in July 2011 from the coffers of the CCT to sponsor his own wedding.

Umar was also alleged to have spent N15.2m to purchase a Toyota Prado Jeep “without following due process.”

In March 2011, Umar was said to have awarded contracts for the supply of office furniture and fittings in the sum of N11.3m.

The contracts were reportedly executed by a “supposedly engineering company and not a furniture or supply company.”

He also allegedly paid N4. 2m for the “purchase of welfare items” in a contract executed by a private individual.

Another N4.2m for the procurement of external light bulbs was described by the petitioners as “entirely fictitious contract.”

Other figures listed against Umar by the petitioners ranged from N1.5m to N3.7m.

The document was signed by Ajulo.

A member from Taraba State, Mr. Rima Shawulu, had laid the petition before the legislature on behalf of the petitioner at a session presided over by the Speaker, Mr. Yakubu Dogara.

Source PUNCH.



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