Arraignment of Ex-Aviation Minister Sirika Delayed Due to Absence

The defendants, who were granted administrative bail, were not served with the charges.
Ex-minister of aviation, Sen. Hadi Sirika
Ex-minister of aviation, Sen. Hadi Sirikagoogle photo

The scheduled arraignment of former Aviation Minister Hadi Sirika, his brother Ahmad Sirika, and their company, Enginos Nigeria Limited, before the Federal Capital Territory High Court in Garki, Abuja, was delayed on Monday due to the defendants' absence.

O.A. Atolagbe, the lawyer for the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), informed the court that the defendants' counsel had requested an adjournment. He stated that "the defendants are not in court. They are not able to make it to the court this morning but they have not been served and are not within Abuja and could not make it into town this morning."

The defendants, who were granted administrative bail, were not served with the charges.

Justice Suleiman Belgore adjourned the matter to May 23 for the arraignment. Hadi Sirika, his brother Ahmad, and Enginos Nigeria Limited face an eight-count criminal charge of fraud amounting to N19.4 billion. The charges involve several aviation ministry contracts allegedly awarded by Hadi Sirika to Enginos Nigeria Limited, owned by his brother Ahmad, between April 2022 and March 2023 in Abuja.

The EFCC alleges that Hadi Sirika used his ministerial position to confer undue advantage on his brother and their company. Ahmad Sirika, the Managing Director and sole signatory to Enginos' accounts at Zenith and Union banks, is implicated in these contracts, which include:

Construction of a Terminal Building at Katsina Airport for N1,345,586,500.00.

Establishment of a Fire Truck Maintenance and Refurbishment Centre at Katsina Airport for N3,811,497,685.00.

Procurement and installation of lift, air conditioners, and power generators for the Aviation House Abuja for N615,195,275.00.

The EFCC states that these offenses are contrary to Section 19 of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2000, and punishable under the same section.

From August 2022 to May 2023, Ahmad and Enginos allegedly had N2,337,840,674.1 in their accounts, representing the proceeds of Hadi Sirika's criminal conduct. This is an offense contrary to Section 17(b) of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (Establishment) Act 2004 and punishable under the same section.

Ahmad was previously detained by the EFCC in connection with N3,212,258,930.18 paid to Enginos Nigeria Limited by Hadi Sirika. The contracts related to these payments remain incomplete with no work traceable to date.

Additionally, Hadi Sirika, his daughter Fatimah, son-in-law Jalal Hamma, and Al-Buraq Investment Limited were arraigned on May 9 before Justice Sylvanus Orji of the Federal Capital Territory High Court, Maitama in Abuja. They faced a six-count amended criminal charge of fraud involving N2.7 billion related to the failed Nigerian Air project. They pled not guilty and were granted bail.

Sirika is also accused of using his position to benefit Tianaero Nigeria Limited, whose principal, Professor Gabriel Tilmann, is allegedly an associate of his.

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