A former Minister of Power and Steel, Alhaji Bashir Dalhatu, has told a Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court in Zuba that was swindled over N68.9 million by a fraudster.
Alhaji Bashir Dalhatu was testifying as a prosecution witness in a case filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) against a businessman, Imeh Akpan, charged with two counts bordering on criminal breach of trust.
The Wazirin Dutse said he was introduced to the accused person in 2004 by his friends, late Alhaji Aliyu Alkali and one Haruna Ningi.
He alleged that the accused person told him to invest in the aviation industry by buying shares in the airline he was floating at the time.
According to him,” he informed me that the business was profitable at that time. He said the business was a win-win. At the end of the presentation, I accepted to buy shares to the tune of N1.8 million representing 34 per cent of the company share capital.
”He told me that he was in the process of negotiating with First Atlantic Bank to obtain a loan facility for his company ‘Commodore Aviation Services.’’
The former minister told the court that the accused informed him that the loan facility was to enable the accused person to buy aircraft to be used in the country by the ‘Commodore Aviation Services.’
Alhaji Bashiru Dalhatu told the court that the accused met him again and request to assist him with N50 million to facilitate the loan.
He said, ”I agreed to provide the N50 million security deposit on two conditions; one of the conditions was to open an interest saving account in the name of ‘Commodore Aviation Services’ and keep the money there.
”The second condition I gave him was that the interest that accrued from the account would be his own and it should be reverted back to me at the end of six months.’’
He noted that the six months period was the time within which he and the bank agreed to disburse the funds to the company.
The traditional titleholder in Jigawa state said that it was also agreed that neither him nor the accused person would remove any amount from the security deposit account, adding that on this understanding, an account was agreed to be open with two signatories.
He explained that on May 28, 2004, a cheque of N58 million representing the shares and security deposit was issued and delivered to ‘Commodore Aviation Services’ and acknowledged by Haruna Ningi on behalf of the company.
Alhaji Bashir Dalhatu said the accused person also approached him to provide further funding of N10.7 million to start the operation of a national airline in the Niger Republic which he also obliged.
He announced to the court that the accused person frustrated his request for an audit exercise in spite of his persistence.
Hence according to him, he, therefore, asked the accused person for the return of his money and whatever interest that might have accrued on the money that also becomes impossible.
He added that “I later discovered that the cheques for the security deposit were credited to an existing account of ‘Commodore Aviation Services’ an identical to the suggested name given to me where he was a sole signatory.’’
When all efforts for a refund failed, he said in Jan 2013, he went to EFCC with a petition enumerating the frictions between him and the accused person and urged the commission to investigate and prosecute the accused if they found adequate grounds to do so.