Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu of the Federal High Court in Abuja, on Monday, ordered the arrest of a former Comptroller General of the Nigeria Customs Service, Abdullahi Dikko.
The judge issued the bench warrant against Mr Dikko for his continued failure to appear in court in respect of corruption charges instituted against him and two others by the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC).
At the resumed hearing of the matter on Monday, Mr Dikko’s lawyer, Solomon Akuma, presented a medical report to the court.
The lawyer said his client was critically ill and on admission at a London hospital.
But the judge said Mr Akuma had on the last adjourned date, promised to produce his client in court.
Ms Ojukwu said the address on the medical report (No: N6 Ahmed Musa Crescent Jabi, Abuja) does not support his claim that Mr Dikko is in a hospital in London.
She asked the prosecution to set aside the arrest warrant if they discover that the ex-custom chief is indeed in a London hospital. If not, he should be arrested and brought to court on March 16.
Mr Dikko is being prosecuted by the ICPC alongside a former Assistant Comptroller-General of the agency in charge of Finance, Administration and Technical Services, Garba Makarfi, and Umar Hussaini, a lawyer and owner of Capital Law Office.
They are accused of inducing the Managing Director of Cambial Limited, Yemi Obadeyi, to pay N1.1 billion (N1,100, 952,380.96) into the account of Capital Law Office as a refundable “completion security deposit” for the purchase of 120 units of duplexes as residential accommodation for officers of the Nigeria Customs Service.
The ICPC accuses Messrs Dikko and Makarfi of using the bank account of Mr Hussaini’s firm’s to illegally receive the money. The anti-graft agency further alleged that Mr Hussaini, between April 6 and December 2010, shared the money into various accounts.
Mr Makarfi was accused of receiving $3 million between April and December 2010, apparently as part of the proceeds of corruption.
Dikko’s Previous Corruption Allegation
Mr Dikko, who was the Comptroller General of the Nigeria Customs Service between August 2009 and August 2015, has faced several allegations of fraudulently enriching himself and certificate forgery.
In 2017, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) seized 17 exotic vehicles from Mr Dikko, after Justice S. M. Shuaibu of the Federal High Court in Kaduna gave an interim order for their forfeiture to the federal government.
Less than a week after the forfeiture order, EFCC recovered dozens of brand new tricycles and motorcycles from a warehouse allegedly belonging to Mr Dikko.
“Operatives of the commission’s Kaduna Zonal office acting on intelligence stormed the facility on February 28 and executed a search warrant which led to the recovery of the following items,” the EFCC said at that time.
The commission listed the recovered items to include: 42 brand new customised yellow-coloured tricycles; 16 brand new cargo motorcycles; one brand new white 32-seater Nissan civilian bus; one MAN diesel truck; 515 brand new imported rugs of different colours and sizes; two metal bulletproof safe with N1.565 billion and documents of transactions in different currencies within and outside the country.
In a similar development, the Nigeria Customs Service under Mr Dikko was accused of paying N12 million into the account of a company belonging to an embattled Federal High Court judge, Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia.
The fifth prosecution witness for the EFCC in a matter filed against Mrs Ofili-Ajumogobia, Omale Ujah, had narrated to a Lagos State High Court in Ikeja how he was instructed in 2014 to pay N12 million into the account of a company, Nigel and Colive Limited, belonging to the judge.
Mr Ujah, an Assistant Controller of Customs, told the court that the N12 million payment was at the instruction of one Musa Tahir, who was the Deputy Controller-General of Customs.
“In the course of my duty in 2014, the Deputy Controller-General that I was working with, Musa Tahir, came down from the office of the Comptroller-General of Customs and gave me the account number of Nigel and Colive limited, saying that the CGC said we should liaise with 12 commands and they should pay N1m each to my account, and I should transfer the whole sum to Nigel and Colive Limited. “And that instruction was carried out,” Mr Ujah said.
He said he paid the money in three tranches of N4 million, N3 million and N5 million. He said he was not aware of any services rendered by the beneficiary company to the Nigeria Customs Service.