HOW SENATOR, EFCC OFFICIALS SHIELD FORMER NAVY DIRECTOR, YUSUF BIU ACCUSED OF STEALING BILLIONS FROM PROSECUTION, COURT SET TO DUMP FRAUD CASE

SaharaReporters had reported that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) accused Yusuf of stealing N2 billion belonging to the Nigerian government while serving as Director of Nigerian Navy Accounts.

The moves by Senator Abdu Suleiman Kwari, the Chairman, Senate Committee on Anti-Corruption and Other Financial Crimes to frustrate the prosecution of former Director of Nigerian Navy Accounts, Rear Admiral Tahir Yusuf Biu have been uncovered.

SaharaReporters had reported that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) accused Yusuf of stealing N2 billion belonging to the Nigerian government while serving as Director of Nigerian Navy Accounts.

In 2020, Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu of a Federal High Court in Abuja also ordered the permanent forfeiture of about N500 million found to have been fraudulently amassed by the military officer to the Nigerian government.

The total amount forfeited was N392,695,857.87, including $91,955.38 and the sum of £15,050 held in domiciliary accounts.

Yusuf, previously second-in-command to the Chief of Account and Budget, Naval Headquarters (NHQ), held the cash in seven accounts in two banks – both private and corporate accounts.

The seven accounts were operated under the name of a company, Bitmas Enterprise, in Zenith Bank while two were held in Yusuf’s name in the defunct Skye Bank, now Polaris Bank.

In March 2022, the EFCC filed fresh nine counts against him before the Federal High Court, Abuja presided over by Justice Inyang Edem Ekwo.

However, when the case came up on Friday, October 28, 2022, counsel for the anti-graft commission, Mr Cosmas Obeta Ugwu said all efforts to locate the whereabouts of Admiral Yusuf had been unsuccessful since March 16, when the nine counts were filed against him.

Ugwu lamented that the defendant could not be found; hence, he could not be brought before the court to defend the criminal charges against him.

Justice Ekwo however held that the agency was wasting state powers, adding that several statutes give enormous powers to EFCC to fish out anybody from their hideout for justice where necessary.

The Judge, therefore, threatened to strike out the criminal charges if, at the next adjourned date, the agency approached the court with the same story.

He subsequently fixed February 22, 2023, as the last adjournment for the EFCC to produce the defendant in court or have the charge struck out.

This comes a few months after an EFCC operative, Mohammed Idris was caught on tape giving hints to one Abdulbari Yusuf, the younger brother of the suspect on how Biu can beat the anti-graft agency in court.

The operative, who is a lawyer and policeman was immediately suspended after the leaked audio conversation he had with Abdulbari was released by SaharaReporters.

Idris had in a leaked audio conversation with Abdulbari said he was angry when he saw the judgment against the retired Naval officer.

He added that the forfeiture case filed against Yusuf Biu at the Federal High Court by his colleague (in the EFCC) was “not strong”, wondering why his lawyer could not defend it.

“But the lawyer that represented at the high court did not do anything. He is a clueless and a useless lawyer. I went to the court, I saw the process and response, they filed forfeiture of his money on non-conviction basis,” he was heard saying.

Multiple sources on Monday told SaharaReporters that the retired naval officer is in Nigeria and being shielded from arrest by Senator Kwari.

He is said to have been sighted during the weekend moving freely in company with his military driver.

“His case came up on Friday, 28th October 2022 where counsel to the EFCC claimed before the court that the commission could not lay its hand on him since the charges were filed after which the Judge said he would strike out the charge at the next adjourned date if the defendant is not produced before the court.

“Interestingly, the Retired Admiral who was once a Director of Navy Accounts and Director, Finance Defense Intelligence Agency is adjudged to be one of the most powerful retired military personnel the country has ever seen and he has been moving about freely in company of his military driver all over the place.

“On Saturday, 22nd October, 2022, the retired Admiral was seen amongst his friends and associates in his new bakery, SIDI’S BAKERY located at the old Savanah Bank building, PZ Area, Zaria, Kaduna State. He has often boasted that he is untouchable and that there is no problem money cannot solve and he has lots of it.

“The EFCC are clearly not interested in prosecuting the retired Admiral and wants the case struck out at the next adjourned date on the pretext that they could not find him when the retired Admiral is not even living in hiding. This is a man that had been in exile in Dubai, United Arabs Emirates for almost 4 years and returned to the country late last year using an illegal passport. Since his return, he has made news for using military and hoodlums to terrorize many residents of Zaria. He was in the news for assaulting several persons, so it is strange for the EFCC to say they cannot find him.”

On the involvement of Kwari, the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Anti-Corruption and other Financial Crimes, the sources said, “The Senator is an old-time friend and business partner of the corrupt retired Admiral. The Senator has been fronting many businesses for the Admiral from proceeds of corruption. In turn, the Admiral has been sponsoring the political career of the Senator even before he got elected into the Senate.

“It is public knowledge that the building which houses SIDI’S BAKERY, situated at Old Savanna Bank building, PZ Area, Zaria, Kaduna State belongs to the retired Admiral. This same building was once used by Senator Abdu Kwari as his campaign office when he contested the election for the House of Representatives position. It is really funny and scandalous to read that the EFCC cannot find the Admiral when he is moving freely in Abuja, Kaduna and Zaria where he has many investments worth several billions of Naira from the proceeds of corruption.

“Senator Kwari sits on the Board of Directors of Pinnacle Hotel and Suits, Maiduguri, the Borno State Capital. Pinnacle Hotel solely belongs to the retired Admiral. The Senator in collaboration with the head of operations of the EFCC, Chukol, who is a bosom friend of the Admiral’s younger brother, Abdulbari Yusuf are the ones shielding the Retired Admiral from prosecution.

“Abdulbari Yusuf is the person whose audio recording of his conversation with an EFCC operative was leaked last year where he was heard scheming with the EFCC operative on how to sabotage the EFCC’s case against the Admiral. So far, neither the EFCC operative nor Abdulbari Yusuf has been brought to book.

“On the other hand, the current House of Representatives’ House chairman on Appropriation and former Chairman House Committee on Defense and also former Chairman House Committee on Army, the powerful Hon. Muktar Aliyu Betara is another close friend and business partner of the corrupt retired Admiral. The Admiral purchased one of his hotels, Emerald Hotel and Suits, Kaduna from Hon. Betara. It is worthy of note that Betara sits on the Board of Emerald Hotels which has another branch in Zaria.

“Interestingly, the EFCC had in 2021 marked Emerald Hotels Zaria and Emerald Hotels Kaduna for investigations but the Admiral asked his staff to wipe it clean and business has continued since then. EFCC operatives are deliberately stalling the case of the Admiral before the Federal High Court, Abuja because they are in the process of striking a deal with the Admiral so that he can keep his remaining loot.

“It will be recalled that in 2018, the Federal High Court Abuja, presided over by Hon. Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu made an order of permanent forfeiture of over N500 million Naira from some of the bank Accounts of the retired Admiral. He returned to the country through Niger Republic border using an illegal passport procured from the Nigerian Immigration Service. He returned to consolidate and revive his several investments worth billions of Naira.”

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