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Nigerian Attorney-General, Malami Takes Over Prosecution Of Petitioner Six Years After In N170m Tax Agency, FIRS Fraud

The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, has taken over the suspicious prosecution of the petitioner in the alleged N170.3 million Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) contract fraud six years later through the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Babadoko Mohammed.

A senior state lawyer in the Federal Ministry of Justice who represented DPP, Bagudu Sani, said they would need more time to analyze the content of the case file before guiding the DPP on what legal advice to offer at the case’s resumed hearing at the Federal High Court in Abuja.

The case, which was presided over by Justice Peter Kekemeke, has been lingering for six years, allegedly due to faulty police prosecution.

Sani told the court that the matter had been adjourned for further proceedings, but that he would not be allowed to proceed until the Attorney General of the Federation sent the case file to the DPP for action.

As a result, he requested an adjournment from the court.

Philemon Achuara, the defense attorney, did not oppose to the oral application.
As a result, the trial judge adjourned the case until May 26, 2022, in order to continue the hearing.

The petitioner, Benjamin Joseph, the Managing Director of Citadel Oracle Concept Limited, an Ibadan-based IT retail concern, has been on trial by the police since July 2, 2016.

Joseph was arraigned by the police on one count bordering on ‘false petitioning’ of the then Inspector General of Police, Solomon Arase, over the N170.3 million FIRS contract fraud.
On July 3, 2013, Joseph petitioned Arase, who was then the Deputy Inspector General (DIG) of Police in charge of the Force Criminal Investigation Bureau (FCIB) to protest against the continued refusal of the police to commence the prosecution of the suspects despite their indictment by the findings of the Special Fraud Unit (SFU) of the police.
In the petition, he reiterated his allegations that some senior officials of Zinox Group, and its affiliate, Technology Distributions Limited (TD), had conspired to impersonate, fraudulently hijack and illegally execute a contract for the supply of laptops awarded to his company by the FIRS in 2012.
The businessman named the suspects of the fraud to include the Chairman of Zinox Group, Leonard Stanley Ekeh, and wife, Chioma. However, both have always denied involvement.
Joseph accused the suspects of conniving with the chief executive of Ad’mas Digital Technologies Limited and Pirovics Engineering Services Limited, Onny Igbokwe, along with one Princess Okechukwu Kama, and two officials of Access Bank PLC – Obilo Onuoha and Deborah Ijeabu, of using his company’s profile to commit the fraud.
Oyebode and Ozims, Joseph further alleged, appointed themselves signatories of a fake account opened in his company’s name at Access Bank, Ikoyi, Lagos, using forged company documents, including a fictitious board resolution dated December 18, 2012, bearing a caricature of his signature.
On March 9, 2015, the DPP, Muhammad Diri, in his legal advice, said after reviewing the case, “we have found enough convincing evidence to prosecute the suspects for the offences stated.”
Earlier on August 15, 2014, the SFU, through the Deputy Commissioner of Police, Subairu Muazu, returned the verdict, just as the Lagos DPP, which recommended in its report of September 26, 2014, that all the suspects be “charged for forgery, conspiracy, impersonation and fraud.”
The report was even more specific in its assertion that: “Technology distribution who supplied the computers also acted fraudulently. The Access Bank officials that opened the fraudulent account are also guilty”.

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