Justice A. R. Mohammed of the Federal High Court sitting in Maitama, Abuja, has adjourned the trial of a former governor of Adamawa State, Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri and one other, charged with N2.9billion fraud to October 4, 2018.
The adjournment was sequel to an application by Fintiri’s counsel, Mahmud Abubakar Magaji, SAN, seeking the release of the international passport of the first defendant to enable him travel to Germany for follow-up on his medical treatment.
Fintiri, a former lawmaker, who also served briefly as the Acting Governor of Adamawa State, is being prosecuted on a 5-count charge of bribery and money laundering alongside Mayim Construction and Properties Limited, by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
He was alleged to have defrauded the Adamawa government by laundering money to the tune of N2.9billion through his naira and dollar accounts domiciled at Ecobank Plc. The defendant is also accused of making large cash payment for the purchase of landed property in Abuja during the three months he held sway as the governor of the state.
The matter was adjourned to Wednesday, June 6, 2018 for continuation of cross-examination of the prosecution’s first witness, Ibrahim Welye, former Secretary to the Adamawa State Government, who in an earlier testimony, told the court that certain contracts awarded by the former acting governor, including the electrification of Kirshinga Village in Madagali Local Government Area of the State, had no approval.
Welye had in a petition dated May 11, 2015 to the EFCC, alleged that the first defendant (Fintiri) fraudulently diverted N497million meant for the construction of a lecture theatre for the Faculty of Law, Adamawa State University, Mubi, laying only the foundation and never completed the project.
The PW1 maintained his position regarding the content of his petition to the EFCC saying:
“I still stand by the content of my petition regarding the renovation of Adamawa State House of Assembly, the construction of Mararaba Garta to Kamale roads, the construction of road network Malamre Ward in Yola, as well as the reconstruction of five roads and storm water drains in Yola.”
The witness, however, added that he had no knowledge of any virement granted by the State’s House of Assembly, in respect of the projects.
Magaji sought to tender certified true copies of letters of ratification for approval of the Mararaba Garta – Kamale road construction dated June 17, 2015 and forwarded to the Honourable Speaker, Adamawa State House of Assembly; a House Resolution dated June 17, 2015; a document from the Office of the Honourable Minister of Works, captioned ‘Advance Payment Guarantee (ST/561/2014)’ dated June 9, 2015, addressed to the Director, Sterling Bank Plc, Lagos and a memo in respect of the project addressed to the governor of Adamawa State, through the Secretary to the State Government, signed by one Barrister Yakubu S. Ngbale, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Works.
But, Aso Larry Peters, counsel to the EFCC, objected to the tendering of the documents saying, “The court had earlier ordered that copies of all documents to be tendered by the defence should be given to the prosecution beforehand”. He noted that the documents sought to be tendered were never made available to the prosecution.”
However, Magaji in response said, “Indeed the court made an order, which we have complied with.” He then showed the prosecution a copy of the acknowledgement, following which Peters applied for time to verify service by the defence, and was obliged by the court.
Thereafter, Magaji presented to the court an application dated May 21 and filed May 25, 2018, seeking an order granting the first defendant leave to travel to Germany for follow-up medical treatment, and accordingly, the release of his international passports deposited with the court.
Peters while not objecting said, “We have no objection to the application. But, we urge your Lordship to impose terms and conditions to ensure that the defendant returns back in due time and that the international passports are returned back to the court.”
Justice Mohammed, in granting the application, stated that the conditions imposed on a similar application in September 2017 apply.