Umaru Tafidan Argungu, a former Nigerian senator has been arraigned for N419m alleged fraud in Sokoto.
The 61-year-old was arraigned on Monday, March 1, before Justice Mohammed Mohammed of the Sokoto State High Court on one count charge of criminal misappropriation of public funds to the tune of N419, 744, 612. 30 (Four Hundred and Nineteen Million, Seven Hundred and Forty-Four Thousand, Six Hundred and Twelve Naira, Thirty Kobo).
The former Senator who represented Kebbi North in the 6th Senate under the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), is alleged to have diverted the said sum which was paid by the Sokoto State government as 40percent equity stake in Hijrah Investment Nigeria Limited, owners of Hijrah Textile Ltd.
According to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, the Sokoto state government had entered into an agreement with the former Senator to buy a 40% stake in his company Hijrah Investment Nigeria Limited in order to create jobs and boost the economy of the state.
However, investigations revealed several withdrawals and transfers from the said account to individuals not remotely connected to the objectives of turning around the company, the EFCC said in a statement.
A visit to the company promises by EFCC investigators showed a company in a severe state of abandonment and dilapidation.
The charge reads: “That you Senator Umar Tafida while being the Chairman of Hijrah Textiles Company Limited and Hijrah Investment Nigeria Limited sometime between 2016 and 2017 at Sokoto within the jurisdiction of the High CoForty-Fourtice Sokoto State, being entrusted with the total sum of N419, 744, 612. 30 (Four Hundred and Nineteen Million, Seven Hundred and Forty Four Thousand, Six Hundred and Twelve Naira, Thirty Kobo) paid by the Sokoto State government representing 40% investment of shareholding in your company to boost the economy of the state, dishonestly misappropriated the money in violation of the mode in which such trust was to be discharged and thereby committed Criminal Breach of Trust contrary to Section 311 of the Penal Code Law CAP 89, Laws of Northern Nigeria and punishable under Section 312 of the same Law”.
He pleaded ‘not guilty’ to the charge.
Based on his plea, the prosecution counsel, S.H. Sa’ad asked the Court for a date to commence trial while defence counsel, Ibrahim Abdullahi move a verbal motion for the bail of his client.
Justice Mohammed granted the defendant bail in the sum of N50 million (Fifty Million Naira) and two sureties in like sum. The sureties must reside and have property within the jurisdiction of the Court.
The judge further ruled that the defendant’s international passport be deposited with the Court.
The case has been adjourned till March 18, 2021, for commencement of trial.