August 05, (THEWILL) – The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, has detained Ladidi Bara’atu Mohammed, the head of assets recovery in the office of the Attorney General of the Federation, ministry of justice, for alleged misappropriation of recovered stolen real estate and other things belonging to the federal government.
THEWILL had exclusively reported earlier this year that the anti graft agency had invited her for questioning over shady deals involving assets recovered and sold off by her in alleged connivance with the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami.
The invitation was a prelude to an invitation extended to six staff members of the same unit she heads, to answer to the alleged fraud going on in the justice ministry. The EFCC investigation into the fraud case was prompted, following a petition by HEDA Resources.
It urged the anti graft agency to expose the rot going on in the ministry, particularly the secret award of the multi-billion-naira assets recovery contract by Malami to a Port Harcourt based private estate surveyor and valuer, Gerry Ikputu and a law firm, M. E. Sheriff & Co.
Both companies are alleged cronies of Malami which necessitated the secrecy, as Malami broke every law guiding the recovery of the assets. Malami charged the law firm to work as a Project Team in collaboration with Ladidi in carrying out their spelt out duties.
Lawyers and anti-corruption campaigners particularly Itse Sagay who chairs the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption; Debo Adeniran, the chairperson of the Centre for Anti-corruption and Open Leadership and Auwal Rafsanjan, Head of Transparency International in Nigeria, all expressed grave concerns about the assets recovery contracts being shrouded in secrecy, devoid of competitive bidding and not in line with established procurement process.
They argued that the EFCC and the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission, and not the AGF’s office, are the only authorized agencies empowered to recover stolen public assets.
They decried a situation where the AGF prefers giving jobs meant for government agencies, allegedly to his friends and cronies, so that every public transaction will be shrouded in secrecy. They had maintained that the AGF has no business hiring a third party to do the job.
When it looked like the EFCC was not making any headway with their investigation at first, HEDA Resources decided to drag Malami to court challenging his power to set up the committee. The suit established that the regulations conflicted with the roles of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Act, Trafficking in Persons (Prohibition) Enforcement and Administrative Act, 2015, National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) Act, 2004 and Independent Corrupt Practices Commission Act (ICPC), 2000, among others, on the matter of disposal of final forfeited assets.
HEDA sought nine reliefs, including the nullification of all disposals of assets by the AGF’s Committee. The first step that proved that Malami was in the wrong was that the court dismissed the AGF’s preliminary objection and granted all of HEDA’s reliefs as prayed on the motion paper.
Justice Ambrose Lewis-Allagoa of the federal high court, Lagos, nullified Malami’s order on recovery and disposal of assets under the Asset Tracing, Recovery and Management Regulations.
This court order seemed to have motivated EFCC as it quickly arrested Ladidi for the role she played alongside Malami in allegedly defrauding the federal government of its assets.
Although Ladidi had said before in public forums that it is nearly impossible under the present administration for recovered looted funds to be re-looted, as mechanisms have been put in place to prevent it, her arrest has however proved otherwise.
Her arrest also got her singing like a bird as she alleged that she acted under the instructions of Malami
Ironically, the piper who was dictating the tune to her all along has allegedly abandoned her to her fate to take the fall. The ministry has refused to bail her out and the piper who wants to remain in the good books of his new inlaw would rather not get roped in, and be indicted. He believes it will be safer for him to wish her well from a distance.