By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
ABUJA – The Federal Government, on Tuesday, withdrew the two-count criminal charge it filed against the Director of Finance and Account in the Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Ibrahim Tumsah over his alleged failure to declare his ownership of 86 exotic cars.
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Tumsah was docked before the Federal High Court in Abuja alongside his brother Mr. Tijani who was a member of the Presidential Committee on North East Initiative and a former Interim National Secretary of the All Progressives Congress, APC.
The duo had pleaded not guilty to the charge that was prepared by the Chief Okoi Obono-Obla-led Special Presidential Investigation Panel on the Recovery of Public Property.
Meanwhile, before hearing could commence in the matter, FG, through its lawyer, Mr. Festus Keyamo, applied to withdraw the charge.
The defendants had at the last sitting, persuaded the court to grant them a short adjournment to enable parties to explore an out-of-court-settlement of the matter.
Meanwhile, following FG’s application to withdraw the case, trial Justice Nnamdi Dimgba struck out the charge.
A lawyer in the prosecution team told Vanguard that FG would re-file the charge after “proper and thorough investigation” is conducted in the case.
FG had earlier disclosed that out of the 86 vehicles that were seized from the defendants, 23 of them were amoured and brand new.
Equally seized from the defedants were four houses and a quarry plant in Abuja.
Justice Dimgba had granted bail to the defendants to the tune of N20million with two sureties.
The court said the sureties must either be a business man or a public civil servant not below the rank of grade level 15, and must own landed properties anywhere in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
Besides, the court ordered the defendants to surrender their international passports, stressing that they should not travel out of the country without permission.
It will be recalled that Justice Muawiyah Idris of an Abuja High Court at Apo had on December 6, 2017, ordered that the 86 luxurious vehicles, as well as the four houses and quarry plant in Kuje Abuja, should in the interim, be forfeited to the government.
The forfeiture order equally affected four houses, two of which were located in Wuse II, one in Wuse Zone 7, and the other in Jabi, all in Abuja.
Eight containers with household items also seized by the panel from the 2nd defendant were also affected by the court order.
The 86 vehicles, the landed assets, and the other items were said to have been found on November 17, 2017, in a warehouse located at No 22 Igbani Street, Jabi, Abuja.
The presidential panel said it had received a petiton that accused the defendant of complicity in acts of corruption and abuse of office.
The panel alleged that Tumsah, from whom the multi-million naira assets were seized, was on a monthly salary of less than N500,000, and yet acquired all the assets between 2016 and 2017.
Some of the seized assets were allegedly bought in the name of two companies- Integrated Service Insurance Ltd and Integrated Bureau De-Change Ltd- belonging to the defendants.
According to the withdrawn charge marked FHC/ABJ/CR/4/2018, the defendants, were accused of failing to declare their assets without reasonable excuse and upon a notice to declare them before the panel.
They were said to have committed an offence contrary to and punishable under section 3(3)(1)(a) of the Recovery of Public Property (Special Provision) Act 2004.
The two-count charges against them read: “That you, Ibrahim Musa Tumsah, M, and Tijani Musa Tumsah, M, on or about October 10 and 25, 2017 being public officers with the Federal Ministry of Power , Works and Housing, Abuja and the Presidential Committee on North-East Initiative Abuja respectively within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, committed an offence to wit: refusal to declare your assets without reasonable excuse and upon notice to declare your assets before the Special Presidential Investigation Panel for the Recovery of Public Property, Abuja, contrary to and punishable under 5. 3 (3) (1) (a) of the Recovery of Public Property (Special Provision) Act 2004 .
“That you, Ibrahim Musa Tumsah, M, and Tijani Musa Tumsah, M, on or about October 10 and 25, 2017 being public officers with the Federal Ministry of Power , Works and Housing, Abuja and the Presidential Committee on North-East Initiative Abuja respectively within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, committed an offence to wit: neglect to declare your assets without reasonable excuse and upon the notice to declare your assets before the Special Presidential Investigation Panel for the Recovery of Public Property, Abuja, contrary to and punishable under Section 3(3)(1) (a) of the Recovery of Public property (special provision) Act 2004.”