The Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has sentenced Umar Hussaini, lawyer to ex-Comptroller General of Customs, late Abdullahi Dikko to seven years in prison over N1.1 billion fraud.
The judge, Ijeoma Ojukwu sentenced Hussaini to seven years jil term but with the option of N100 million fine.
The judge found the lawyer guilty of tow counts charge obtaining money by false pretence contrary to and punishable under the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Related Offences Act, 2006.
The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) had filed the case referenced FHC/AB/CR/74/2020 against Hussaini as the sole defendant
ICPC stated that the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) paid N1.1 billion to a Real Estate company Cambial Nigeria Limited for purchase of housing units.
The agency said that Hussaini fraudulently received the money from the Real Estate company using the account of his law firm, Capital Law Office in April 2010.
The N1. 1 billion was part of the funds NCS paid to Cambial Nigeria Limited for purchase of 120 housing units in Kuje, Abuja meant to be distributed to Customs officers.
ICPC said Mr Dikko instructed Cambial Nigeria Limited to pay Mr Hussaini’s law firm the N1.1 billion which was described as “completion security deposit” for the sale of the 120 housing units.
Although, Mr Hussaini was Mr Dikko’s private lawyer, the anti-corruption agency said, he was designated to receive the money from Cambial Nigeria Limited as NCS external solicitor.
An ICPC investigator, Yetunde Faniran, told the court that the lodgment of the N1.1 billion was masked from the statement of account of Capital Law Office with Stanbic IBTC Bank Plc.
The investigator, however said, the account statement of Cambial Nigeria Limited with Zenith Bank Plc, reflected the transfer of the money to the law firm owned by Mr Hussaini, sometime in April, 2010.
The defendant, according to the ICPC operative, had said the money paid to him on the instructions of the late NCS boss was the death benefit of a deceased relative of Mr Dikko.
The operative said Mr Hussaini could not provide the name of the alleged deceased relative.
Investigations, the ICPC operative added, revealed that Mr Hussaini transferred much of the money to a Bureau De-Change (BDC), which was then converted into $3 million and handed over to Mr Dikko through one of his subordinates.
Mr Dikko, who died in February 2021, was initially charged along with Mr Hussaini and other alleged conspirators.
But the ICPC withdrew the initial case in June 2020, when it could not arrest and produce Mr Dikko in court.