From Eric Ikhilae, Abuja
A former Special Duties Minister, Kabiru Tanimu Turaki, was arraigned on Monday with three others before a Federal High Court in Abuja on fraud related charges.
Turaki, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, (SAN), served as the minister for Special Duties and Inter-Governmental Affairs from 2013 to 2015. He was also the supervising minister of Labour from 2014 to 2015.
Arraigned with him, on a 16-count charge filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), are his former Special Assistant, Sampson Okpetu and two firms allegedly owned by Okpetu – Samtee Essentials Limited and Pasco Investment Limited.
EFCC alleged, in the charge marked: FHC/ABJ/CR/61/2020 that Turaki used the two companies belonging to his aide, to illegally siphon public funds estimated at N714, 670, 014.87.
A count in the charge reads: “That you Kabiru Tanimu Turaki (while serving as Minister for Special Duties and Inter Governmental Affairs) sometime in January 2015 did use the sum of N159,104,000 out of the sum of N359, 104,000 released to the Federal Ministry of Special Duties and Inter-governmental Affairs for the purpose of sensitisation and enlightenment of Muslim youths, knowing that the said sum is proceed of unlawful activity to wit: criminal misappropriation and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 15(2)(d) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 (as amended) and punishable under Section (15(3) of the same Act.”
The defendants pleaded not guilty after an official of the court read the charge to them.
Prosecution lawyer Halima Alhaji-Shehu asked for a date for the commencement of trial in view of the defendants’ pleas.
Alhaji-Shehu said the prosecution has lined up nine witnesses to prove its case.
Turaki’s defence team, led by Joe Kyari Gadzama (SAN), applied for his bail, urging the court to grant him bail on self-recognition.
Counsel to Okpetu O. M. Atoyebi, SAN, also prayed the court to grant his client bail on self-recognition or on liberal terms in line with the administrative bail granted the defendants by the EFCC.
Responding, Alhaji-Shehu said although she was not opposed to bail for the defendants, the court should admit them to bail on such terms that will ensure that they are available to stand trial.
Ruling, Justice Inyang Ekwo granted bail to the defendants on the terms of the administrative bail earlier granted them by the EFCC.
Justice Inyang ordered the defendants to continue to enjoy the administrative bail condition granted them by the EFCC.
He added that the particulars of the EFCC administrative bail should be transferred to the registrar, which included that they surrender their international passports, which were already in the custody of the EFCC.
In addition, the defendants shall not travel out of the court’s jurisdiction without the leave of the court.
Besides the transfer of his international passport to the court, the second defendant is to produce one surety, who must be a Deputy Director on Grade Level 16.
The judge adjourned till June 22 this year for the commencement of trial.
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