Alleged ₦2.7bn fraud: Sirika arraigned, pleads not guilty, gets ₦100m bail

Sirika, daughter arrive the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory in Abuja on 9th May, 2024. (Photograph: Olukayode Jaiyeola)

A former Aviation Minister Hadi Sirika has pleaded not guilty to the alleged corrupt practices involving about N2.7 billion brought against him by the Federal Government.

Sirika was arraigned before Justice Sylvanus Oriji at the Federal High Court in Abuja along with his daughter, Fatima, his son-in-law, Jalal Sule Hamma, and a firm – Al Buraq Global Investment Limited.

The daughter and son-in-law also pleaded not guilty to the six-count charges when read to them.

Following their denial of the fraud charges, their respective lawyers moved applications for their bail which was granted by the judge.

Justice Oriji admitted the three defendants on bail for ₦100m and two sureties each in the like sum.

The sureties must be responsible citizens with verifiable home addresses while one of them must have landed property with a certificate of occupancy signed by the FCT Minister.

The judge ordered that the defendants must not travel out of the country without express permission of the court.

If unable to perfect the bail conditions, Justice Orijin ordered that they should be remanded in prison custody till the time of perfection of bail conditions.

The court fixed June June 10th for the commencement of the trial.

Sirika served under the administration of former president Muhammadu Buhari.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had on Wednesday said it would arraign Sirika and the three others.

The charge sheet sighted by Channels Television allegedly that Sirika used his position as a minister to fraudulently award contracts to his daughter, son-in-law, and associates.

In February, the EFCC arrested Sirika’s brother Abubakar Sirika over an alleged contract fraud in the aviation ministry.

During his tenure as minister, Sirika faced allegations including conspiracy, abuse of office, diversion of public funds, contract inflation, criminal breach of trust, and money laundering totaling N8,069,176,864.

The EFCC had revealed that the funds in dispute related to four aviation contracts awarded by the former minister to a company called Engirios Nigeria Limited, which is owned by his younger brother.