The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) at the Maitama Division of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court opened its case of alleged N2.6 billion fraud against former Aviation Minister Hadi Sirika and three others on Monday.

The EFCC dragged Mr Sirika and his daughter, Fatima, Jalal Sule Hamma and Al-Duraq Investment Limited for abuse of office and contract fraud.

They are standing trial before Justice Sylvanus Oriji on six counts.

At the hearing, Azubuike Okorie, a subpoenaed witness of the EFCC, testified as the first witness (PW1)

He said he was a retired employee of the Federal Ministry of Aviation, the director of Procurement, Special Assistant to the Honorable Minister, Projects (2022-2023), and chairman of the Project Implementation Committee.

When led in evidence by the prosecution counsel, Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), the witness said that he was responsible for monitoring and evaluating projects as a special assistant.

When asked about what he knew about the contract to Al-Duraq Global Investment by the Federal Ministry, he said, ” I was not involved in contracts, and my committee is also not involved in awarding contracts.”

Asked to tell the court how he got the exhibit tagged “List, 2021 Projects,” he said, ” These documents were the ones the then minister asked me to send to the Permanent Secretary, and I did that by making photocopies.

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”Let me answer it this way: these documents were given to me. I was not there when he wrote on them, but I will assume the minister (Sirika) wrote in red because only ministers write in red. ”

He said he saw N800 million against Al-Duraq Global Investment Limited and Apron Expansion and was aware the contract was given to the above company.

Mr Okorie added that before a contract is awarded, the user’s agency, in this case, the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), would have secured the land.

“Well, the team of the Project Implementation Committee came in contact with Al-Duraq in Kastina when we went for project monitoring and implementation at Kastina airport.

“When we got there, because we had a list of other contractors who were supposed to be on the ground, including Al-Duraq, we did not find any of them on site then,” he said.

The witness further said that, to the best of his knowledge, the contract was not executed when he left civil service on May 23, 2023.

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When asked if he knew that a 100 per cent payment was made to the fourth defendant before he left office, he told the court that he was only aware of the 30 per cent mobilisation fee paid to them.

He added that as the committee chairman, he was not involved in payments.

”As a former director, what I know is that payments were made in stages,” he said.

Mr Jacobs told the court that that was all for the witness.

Kanu Agabi (SAN), counsel for Mr Sirika (first defendant), told the court that he was just served with the papers today and needed time to review them, saying, ” I beg, let’s come back tomorrow.”

Mahmoud Magaji, SAN for Ms Fatima (second defendant) and Michael Numa (SAN) for Al-Duraq Investment allied with him.

The prosecution counsel, Mr Jacobs, did not object to their prayer.

Justice Oriji then adjourned until Tuesday for cross-examination and continuation of trial.