N1.1 billion fraud: ICPC gets conviction of former Customs boss’s lawyer

Customs ICPC

Umar Hussaini, a lawyer for the late Abdullahi Dikko, the former Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Customs Service (NSC), was found guilty of a N1.1 billion scam by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC).

ICPC, in a Charge No: FHC/ABJ/CR/74/2020, had arraigned Hussaini prior to actually Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu of the Federal High Court, Abuja over his complicity in inducing the Managing Director of Cambial Limited, Mr. Yemi Obadeyi, who was the complainant, to pay N1.1 billion into the account of Capital Law Office on March 6, 2010, as refundable “completion security deposit” for the procurement of 120 units of houses as residential accommodation for officers of NCS.

When the case was set for trial, the defendant used numerous delay strategies to stall the proceedings. One of these included submitting a “No Case Submission” to the court, in which he claimed that the money paid into the Capital Law Office account was induced by the deceased former comptroller-general and a former deputy comptroller general, Garba Bala Makarfi, who gave the order to pay the money. This argument set the stage for a protracted legal battle.

Yet, the prosecution was able to establish a sufficient prima facie connection between the defendant and the accused crimes.

The court was also aware of the convict’s deception in having the complainants deposit money into his private legal practice under the false premise that he was operating on behalf of the NCS by pretending to be an external attorney to the NCS when he knew he wasn’t.

After that, Hussaini was found guilty by Justice Ojukwu on two counts of gaining by false pretense, which is against and punishable by the Advanced Fee Fraud and Other Similar Offences Act, 2006.

The judge then gave him a seven-year prison sentence on each count, with the possibility of a fine of N100,000,000. The sentences must flow together.

Additionally, he was mandated to give the complainant Yemi Obadeyi and the business Cambial Ltd N100 million in compensation.

The judge further decreed that the offender should remain in prison detention until the requirements of the fine were satisfied.

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