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EFCC arraigns six FAAN officials, others for illegal gold mining



The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Lagos Zonal Office, has arraigned eight suspected members of a syndicate before Justice A.O. Faji of the Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos, on a three-count charge bordering on alleged dealing in gold mining without lawful authorisation, conspiracy and being in possession of raw gold without lawful authorisation.

The suspects are Babagana Zannah, who claimed to be the owner of the raw gold bars; Ahmed Hamza Mannir; Manasseh Auta; Dahiru Habib Bali; Isa Umaru Ammani; Ajakaye Oladipo; Bamanja Jonah Samuel and Lasisi Aisha.

The second suspect, Mannir, who was arrested onboard an Emirate flight to Dubai on March 1, 2019 at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Ikeja, Lagos, was allegedly helped by the third to eight defendants, who are employees of the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN.)

The defendants pleaded “not guilty” to the charge preferred against them.

In view of their pleas, the prosecuting counsel, Ayanfe Ogunsina, asked the court for a trial date and prayed that the defendants be remanded in prison.

However, Habeeb Oredola, counsel for the first and second defendants and I.I. Chiahulamiro, counsel for the third to eight defendants, informed the court of bail application on behalf of their clients.

The defence counsel, in an application dated April 8, 2019, also prayed the court to grant their clients bail in the most liberal terms pending determination of the charge preferred against them.

Chiahulamiro further pleaded with the court that his clients are employees of the Federal Government and would not jump bail if granted.

However, Ogunsina opposed the bail application filed by the defence counsel, saying: “The punishment of this offence carries life imprisonment. And if the court is to use its discretion to grant bail, it should be in terms that the defendants will be present in court.”

Justice Faji adjourned the case to April 16, 2019 for ruling on the bail application and ordered the defendants to be remanded in prison custody.

In a related vein, the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC) has arrested the Chairman and three top management members of the Committee of Federal Polytechnic Rectors (COFER) for allegedly being in possession of N10.2million bribe money.

ICPC spokesperson, Rasheedat Okoduwa, in a statement yesterday in Abuja, said that they were arrested at the premises of the National Board for Technical Education (NABTE), Abuja, through a sting operation by the commission.

The spokesperson said the suspects, who had been granted administrative bail by the commission, would be charged to court as soon as investigations are concluded.

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