By James Ameh
ABUJA -- Former Minister for Special Duties, Kabiru Tanimu Turaki, SAN, has been arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, before an Abuja High Court over alleged 16 - count fraud charge.
Turaki was docked Monday, alongside his former Special Assistant, Sampson Okpetu, and two firms- Samtee Essentials Limited and Pasco Investment Limited on charges bordering on criminal misappropriation of finds and money laundering.
The former minister also, served as Minister for Inter-Governmental Affairs from 2013 to 2015, as well as the Supervising Minister for Labour from 2014 to 2015.
The EFCC, explained that Turaki used the two companies belonging to his aide, Okpetu, to loot over N800million from the public treasury while serving as a public servant.
The prosecution alleged that he removed over N150m from the account of the Federal Ministry of Labour under the guise of funding SURE-P technical vocational education/training.
Apart from that, Turaki was further alleged to have connived with the then Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry for Special Duties and Inter-Government Affairs, late Taiye Haruna and one Okunriboye Titus who was an accountant in the Ministry, to divert funds from accounts of the Ministry, into accounts belonging to the firms.
Turaki’s wife, Halima and one Abdullahi Maigwandu Bagudu, were also alleged to have been involved in the subsequent laundering of the stolen funds outside the country.
The EFCC furthermore alleged that about N185m of the stolen funds were transferred to ABYS Motors Limited between September 19 to November 28, 2014, by late Haruna and the then Director of Procurement in the Ministry, one Gambo Mu’azu.
The prosecution pointed out that Turaki, on or about February 3 and 12, 2015, transferred N133.6 million to Drilled Tiger Construction, a company owned by one Abdulrahman Yusuf, now at large.
However, the defendants pleaded not guilty to the charge read to them before Justice Inyang Ekwo.
In his ruling, Justice Ekwo adopted all the terms and conditions in the administrative bail earlier granted them by the EFCC and directed the EFCC to transfer terms of the bail to its Registry, just as it banned the defendants from traveling outside the country without permission.
Ekwo then adjourned the matter till June 22 for commencement of trial.
Turaki’s lawyer, Chief J.K. Gadzama, SAN, who spoke to newsmen after the case was adjourned accused the EFCC of witch-hunting his client unnecessarily, insisting that the trial was politically motivated.