In a significant development, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has taken former Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, into custody in connection with an ongoing investigation into alleged money laundering amounting to N8,069,176,864.00.
Sirika was apprehended by EFCC officials at the commission’s Federal Capital Territory Command around 1:00 pm on Tuesday.
Sources familiar with the investigation disclosed that Sirika is under scrutiny for purportedly awarding fraudulent contracts to a company owned by his younger brother, Abubakar Sirika.
These contracts, valued at over N8 billion, were reportedly granted to Engirios Nigeria Limited for various aviation projects, including the construction of a terminal building at Katsina Airport and the procurement of aircraft and simulators for the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology.
Abubakar Sirika, who is also in EFCC custody, is said to be cooperating with investigators, providing crucial insights into the financial transactions of the Aviation Ministry during his brother’s tenure.
Investigations have revealed that funds disbursed to Abubakar’s company were allegedly transferred to multiple individuals and entities without evidence of corresponding work completed on the contracted projects.
The EFCC’s probe into the Aviation Ministry encompasses allegations of conspiracy, abuse of office, diversion of public funds, contract inflation, criminal breaches of trust, and money laundering.
“Yes, that was Hadi Sirika who was taken into our FCT custody. He is currently meeting with EFCC investigators over the alleged N8,069,176,864.00 aviation ministry contract fraud,” a source revealed.
Another source noted, “The N8,069,176,864.00 aviation ministry contract fraud was carried out in connivance with his younger brother, Abubakar Sirika, through the latter’s company.”
This development of Sirika’s arrest follows earlier reports by The PUNCH in February, which hinted at the EFCC’s scrutiny of the Aviation Ministry’s activities under Sirika’s leadership.
The investigation has uncovered a web of corruption and deceit, with Sirika and his brother allegedly working together to siphon billions of naira from the Aviation Ministry.
The contracts awarded to Engirios Nigeria Limited were allegedly inflated, and the company failed to deliver on the projects, leaving the ministry with a huge financial burden.
An EFCC investigator told the news platform, “We’re investigating an N8,069,176,864.00 money laundering case linked to former Aviation Minister Hadi Sirika.
“Hadi awarded contracts to his brother Abubakar, knowing that the latter is a civil servant, a deputy director on Level 16 in the Federal Ministry of Water Resources, where he has been working since 2000 till date.
“The first of the contracts from the former minister to Engirios Nigeria Limited was on August 18, 2022, for the construction of the Terminal Building in Katsina Airport, at a cost of N1,345,586,500.00. The second was awarded on November 3, 2022, for the establishment of the Fire Truck Maintenance and Refurbishment Center in Katsina Airport, valued at N3, 811,497,685.00.
“The third contract was on February 3, 2023, for the procurement and installation of lifts, air conditioners, and a power generator’s house in Aviation House, Abuja, at the cost of N615,195,275.000, while the fourth was awarded on May 5, 2023, for the procurement of Magnus aircraft and a simulator for the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology, Zaria, at the cost of N2, 296,897,404.00.
“Out of the total contract sum, the ex-minister paid out N3,212,258,930.18 to his younger brother’s Engirios Nigerian Limited, who, upon receipt of the payment, transferred it to different companies and individuals. There is no trace of work done on any of the contract items to date.
“Abubakar Sirika is currently in our custody at the Headquarters, and he is providing us with more useful information on the financial activities of the Aviation Ministry under the supervision of his older brother, Hadi Sirika.”