Four men and three companies were on Friday arraigned before a Federal High Court in Abuja on charges bordering on unlawful possession of gold valued at over N7.1billion.
They were also accused, in a two-count amended charge, to which they pleaded guilty, of attempt to transport the cash sum of €112,800 without making a declaration of the some to the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) as required by law.
The four men listed in the charge, marked: FHC/ABJ/CR/80/2019 are: Abba Ali Yahaya, Ali Abdullahi, Aminu Mahmud Adam, Alyu Mohammed, Indo Nigeria Mining Company Limited, A. A. Mai Zinari Ltd and Al-Izzat Trading and Investment Ltd.
Aliyu Mohammed, who was described as the Director of Indo Nigeria Mining Company Limited and A. A. Mai Zinari Ltd pleaded on their behalf; while Aminu Mohammed Adam, described as a director of Al-Izzat Trading and Investment Ltd, equally pleaded for the company.
Though another company – Sino Minmetals Company Limited – was listed in the charge as the 4th defendant the prosecuting lawyer, Mohammed Abubakar applied earlier in the proceedings, for the company’s name to be deleted.
Abuakar said the decision to excuse Sino from the case was informed by the prosecution’s finding, to the effect that “the 8th defendant (Aliyu Mohammed) has ceased to be a director of the 4th defendant company (Sino), from August 18, 2016, while the alleged offence was committed on the 10th of August 2018, about two years after.
“In the light of this, we apply that the name of the 4th defendant be struck out from the amended charge filed on July 17, 2019.”
C. A. Ejugo, (who held the brief of Vitalis Udoji, for the 4th defendant) and Abdulhameed Mohammed (for the other defendants) did not object to the prosecution’s application in relation to the 4th defendant.
Justice Evelyn Maha, in a ruling, struck out the 4th defendant from the charge, following which the other defendants pleaded guilty to the charge when it was read to them.
The judge subsequently stood down proceedings until 2.30pm for the sentencing of the defendants.
The two-count amended charge reads: “That you Abba Ali Yahaya and Ali Abdullahi on or about the 10th August, 2018 within the jurisdiction of this honourable court did attempt to transport the cash sum of €112,800 (one hundred and twelve thousand, eight hundred euros) without making a declaration of the some to the Nigeria Custom Service as required by Section 12 of the Foreign Exchange (Monitoring and Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, Cap F34, LFN 2004 and you thereby committed on offence contrary to Section 18(b) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 (as amended) and punishable under section 2(5) of the some Act.
“That you Abba Ali Yahaya, Aminu Mahmud Adam, Alyu Mohammed, Indo Nigeria Mining Company Limited, A. A. Mai Zinari Ltd and Al-Izzat Trading and Investment Ltd on or about the 10th of August 2018 within the jurisdiction of this honourable court did possess smelted gold, weighing about 73,032 grams with a market value of the sum of N1,127,308,460.40 (One Billion, One Hundred and Twenty Seven Million, Three Hundred and Eight Thousand, Four Hundred and Sixty Naira; Forty Kobo) without a valid permit in that behalf and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 131(d) of the Nigerian Minerals and Mining Act, 2007 and punishable under Section 133 of the some Act.”