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Opinion

ex-NIRSAL boss, Abdulhameed arrested over alleged forgery

The former Managing Director of Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending, NIRSAL, Plc, Mr. Aliyu Abdulhameed, was on Wednesday, arraigned before the Federal High Court in Abuja over his alleged involvement in forgery.

Abdulhameed was docked alongside his co-defendant, Babangida Abdullahi, on a 10-count charge.

NIRSAL is a $500million non-bank financial institution that was created by the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, to manage agribusiness-related credit risks in the country.

Former President Muhammadu Buhari had on December 1, 2022, sacked Abdulhammed as NIRSAL’s MD, following allegations of corruption against him pertaining to agric loans.

In the charge marked: FHC/ABJ/CR/555/2023, which was filed by the Nigeria Police Force, the duo were said to had sometime in October 2023, conspired with others that are now at large, to forge some public documents.

The defendants were said to have committed an offence that was contrary to Section 3(6) and punishable under Section 1(2){c} of the Miscellaneous Offences Act, Cap. M17, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2010.

Meanwhile, the defendants pleaded not guilty to the charge when it was read to them in the open court.

Though the prosecution counsel, Mr. Celestine Odo, urged the court to remand them in prison custody, however, trial Justice Inyang Ekwo held that he was minded to release them on bail.

The court allowed the defendants to go home on the terms of the administrative bail that was earlier given to them by the police.

Counsel to the defendants, Chief Akin Olujimi, SAN, had notified the court that he filed application for their release on bail, pending the determination of the case against them.

Chief Olujimi, SAN, noted that police did not file a counter-affidavit to challenge the defendants’ request for bail.

Confirming the development, the police lawyer said he was opposed to the application.

Odo further disclosed that he has lined up five witnesses that will testify and tender documentary evidence to establish the charge against the defendants.

In a short ruling, trial Justice Ekwo directed the parties to tender all their exhibits in the course of the hearing, saying he would not entertain unnecessary objections.

“You are going to bundle the documentary evidence per witness and paginate it from page 1 to the end.

“I will take the documentary evidence in bundle and will not entertain any objection on admissibility.

“Parties will be at liberty to address the court at conclusion of trial on both admissibility and probative value,” the judge held.

He adjourned the matter to May 20, 22, 22 and 23 for trial.

Justice Ekwo ordered the prosecution to transfer particulars of the defendants’  bail to the court’s registry.

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