JUST IN:Minister of Justice Malami Shields High Profile Syndicate In N170 Million FIRS Contract Despite Indicting Documents

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SaharaReporters has obtained several documents that indicted some deep-pocket syndicates who allegedly defrauded and swindled an Ibadan-based businessman and managing director of the Citadel Oracle Concepts Limited, Benjamin Joseph, of N170 million Federal Inland Revenue Service contracts.

The Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Federation, Abubakar Malami, has refused to prosecute the suspects, despite a prima facie case that has been established in the reports by the Special Enquiry Bureau of the Criminal Intelligence and Investigation Department of the Nigeria Police Force, Abuja.

The CIID had investigated the allegations contained in Joseph’s petition of July 3, 2014.

In one of the reports with No. 3000X//FHQABJSEB/Vol.41 of April 7, 2015, the suspects were recommended for prosecution and to be charged for conspiracy, forgery and fraud over their role in the diversion of contracts.

Among the suspects was the chief executive of Zinox Computers, Leonard Ekeh.

The contract for the supply of laptop computers by the FIRS was awarded to Citadel Oracle Concepts Limited belonging to the complainant in 2012 was fraudulently diverted by the syndicates.

The minister was said to have deliberately frustrated the case in an attempt to shield the eight suspects listed by a Deputy Inspector-General of Police’s investigation report.
Names of those to be prosecuted included Chief Leo Stan Ekeh, Princess Kama Onyeoma, Chief Onny S.O Igbokwe, Mr Chris Eze Ozims and Folashade Oyebode.

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Others are Charles Adigwe, Obilo Onuoha and Deborah Ojeabu.

The suspects were alleged to have connived and forged the complainant’s company documents, signature and letterhead paper to divert the contracts fraudulently.

The suspects opened bank accounts with the Access Bank in the complainant’s company’s name with which the payments were received from FIRS for the execution of those contracts.

As required by law, the perpetrators needed a board resolution of Citadel Oracle Concept Limited to open the account. Since they were executing the contract fraudulently behind the company, they could not approach the company for board resolution. So, they forged it.

Igbokwe and Kama were alleged to have taken a board resolution to the IT Company, Zinox/Technologies Distribution Limited, to supply the laptops which they were, in turn, to supply to FIRS in the name of Citadel.

Igbokwe is the chief executive of a Port Harcourt-based IT company, Ad’mas Digital Technologies Limited, as well as Pirovics Engineering Services Limited, while Kama, his ally, allegedly conspired and facilitated the fraud.

In a letter titled “Police Interim Report” dated October 19, 2020, with reference number CB.4099/X-SQD/D.Dept T.2 /FHQ/ABJ/VOL. 4/116 by the Commissioner of Police X- Squad Section, Amechi Elumelu, to the DIG of the Police Force Criminal Investigation Department, the letter recommended the prosecution of the suspects.

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The letter recommended to the Director of Public Prosecution to prosecute the suspects given the overwhelming evidence of culpability of the suspects. The report also directed ACP Simon Lough, the prosecutor, to withdraw from the case filed against the complainant.

An interim police report dated October 19, 2020, pointed out that Simon Lough had flouted several directives, signals and verbal directives by the DIG FORCID ordering him to transfer the case file to the X squad.

The report recommended ACP Simon Lough to withdraw the case against the complainant immediately and transfer the case file to the X squad section, given the overwhelming evidence of culpability of the suspects.

It stated further that the suspects should be charged as advised by the Director of Public Prosecution.

In a letter obtained by SaharaReporters with reference No. DPP /ADV/1009/14, the report recommended to the Director of Public Prosecution to take over the prosecution of the case from the police in light of the prima facie evidence against the suspects.

Meanwhile on May 8, 2015, the complainant, Joseph, again petitioned a former Inspector General of Police, Solomon Arase, shortly after his appointment over the lukewarm attitude of the police to prosecute the suspects.

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But instead of charging the matter to court and prosecuting the suspects, the police instead charged the petitioner, Joseph, for “providing false information in his petition against the suspects.”

Joseph was subsequently arraigned before a Federal Capital Territory High Court on a one-count charge of ‘false petitioning’ to frustrate the case of identity theft, impersonation, forgery and criminal conversion of contracts against the suspects.

At the resumed hearing of the case on Thursday, November 26, the petitioner opened his defence after a series of adjournment.

It was gathered that Joseph had met the Attorney General and Minister of Justice on this matter for more than eight consecutive times on the need to prosecute the suspects, but he kept dribbling him since 2015.

The suspects are still walking free on the streets despite the overwhelming evidence.

The complainant through his lawyer, Bob James, had written another petition dated October 23 to the Inspector General of Police, Muhammed Adamu, and demanded the sum of N1 billion damages against ACP Simon Lough and the Nigerian Police Force or face legal action.