Civil Servant Arraigned for Obstructing EFCC Investigation

 The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has arraigned Usman Mallam, a low cadre civil servant employed by the Gombe State Government, for allegedly obstructing a criminal investigation by tearing the commission’s letters of investigative activities. The arraignment took place on June 11 at the Federal High Court in Gombe, the Gombe State capital, North-east Nigeria.

A press statement by the EFCC, signed by the Head of Media and Publicity, Dele Oyewale, detailed the charges against Mallam. The EFCC accused him of willfully obstructing their investigation by destroying official documents related to the probe. Specifically, the commission was investigating Mallam over allegations of economic and financial crimes when he allegedly tore two official letters from the EFCC dated January 1, 2024, and February 21, 2024. The offence is said to violate Section 38 (1) and is punishable under Section 38 (2) (a) and (b) of the EFCC Act.

Mallam, a desk officer in the Office of the Secretary to the Gombe State Government (SSG), appeared before the trial judge, T.G. Ringim, and pleaded not guilty to the charges. During the arraignment, Mallam’s defense counsel, S.S. Usman, applied for bail on behalf of his client. He presented a bail application dated July 11, 2024, to the court.

In response, the prosecution counsel, A.M. Labaran, urged the court to set a date for trial. Judge Ringim granted Mallam bail in the sum of N10 million with one surety. The surety must be a director in a government establishment or a private company with a capital of at least N10 million. Additionally, the court registrar is tasked with verifying the surety’s identity, and both the surety and the defendant are required to submit two passport photographs to the court.

The trial judge ordered Mallam’s remand in the Gombe State Correctional Service until he meets the bail conditions. The case was then adjourned until July 9 for trial. The lone charge against Mallam reads, “that you, Usman Mallam, on or about the 26th day of February 2024 at Gombe, Gombe State within the jurisdiction of this honorable court while the officers of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, were carrying out an investigation activity involving an alleged economic and financial crime, did willfully obstruct the said investigation by tearing the EFCC formal letters of investigation activities dated January 1, 2024, and February 21, 2024, respectively, and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 38 (1) and punishable under Section 38 (2) (a) and (b) of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission Establishment Act.”

This incident bears similarity to a notable case involving a former National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Olisa Metuh. In January 2016, the EFCC charged Metuh at the Federal High Court in Abuja with money laundering involving N400 million allegedly fraudulently taken from the Office of the National Security Adviser in November 2014 during the administration of then-President Goodluck Jonathan. Subsequently, the commission charged Metuh at the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court in Abuja with two counts of destroying his statement made under caution to its operatives and investigators while in custody on January 5, 2016.

The trial, overseen by the then-Chief Judge of the FCT High Court, Ishaq Bello, resulted in an adjournment for judgment. Metuh was convicted and jailed in the money laundering case at the Federal High Court, but the judgment was overturned on appeal, with the Court of Appeal ordering a retrial.

In Mallam’s case, the EFCC’s charge of willful obstruction highlights the serious implications of interfering with an ongoing investigation. The forthcoming trial will determine the outcome of the allegations and whether Mallam will face consequences similar to those initially faced by Metuh.

Source: Premium Times

EFCC arraigns civil servant for tearing investigative documents