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Alleged N2Billion Theft: Nigerian Ex-Naval Officer On The Run, Anti-Graft Agency, EFCC Claims After Audio Exposed Official Teaching Him How To Win Fraud Case

Alleged N2Billion Theft: Nigerian Ex-Naval Officer On The Run, Anti-Graft Agency, EFCC Claims After Audio Exposed Official Teaching Him How To Win Fraud Case
October 28, 2022

The anti-graft agency said that all efforts to locate the whereabouts of Admiral Biu have proved unsuccessful since March 16 this year.


The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has told a Federal High Court in Abuja that a former Director of Nigerian Navy Accounts, Rear Admiral Tahir Yusuf Biu, is on the run and cannot be reached.

SaharaReporters had reported that Yusuf was being prosecuted by the Nigerian government through the EFCC for allegedly stealing N2 billion while serving as Director of Nigerian Navy Accounts.

The anti-graft agency said that all efforts to locate the whereabouts of Admiral Biu have proved unsuccessful since March 16 this year, when 9 counts were filed against him.

EFCC’s counsel, Mr Cosmas Obeta Ugwu, lamented that the defendant could not be found; hence, he could not be brought before the court to defend the criminal charges against him.

The charge sheet revealed that on March 14, 2012, Biu allegedly took possession of N135.4 million which he put in his Bitmas Enterprises account 1001439871. The money was transferred from the Defence Intelligence Agency personnel account, while another N197.8 million was also transferred in the same manner into the Bitmas account.

EFCC also charged him with unlawful transfer of N148 million from the Defence Intelligence Agency to his company account at Zenith Bank and N334 million into the same company’s account in the same manner.

Also, Admiral Biu was alleged to have taken possession of another N152 million and another N20 million from Defence Intelligence Agency transferred into the company account.

The anti-graft agency also alleged that the former Naval Chief diverted $300,000 from a Navy personal account meant for the purchase of furniture for Navy Secondary School at Okura to his company account domiciled at Zenith Bank before he escaped to an unknown destination.

When the matter came up, Ugwu painted a gloomy picture of being helpless in locating the defendant for arrest and arraignment in court, but Justice Inyang Edem Ekwo disagreed with the anti-graft agency on the issue.

Justice Ekwo held that the agency was wasting state powers, adding that several statutes give enormous powers to EFCC to fish out anybody from their hideout for justice where necessary.

The Judge, therefore, threatened to strike out the criminal charges if, at the next adjourned date, the agency approached the court with the same story.

He subsequently fixed February 22, 2023, as the last adjournment for the EFCC to produce the defendant in court or have the charge struck out.

This comes a few months after an EFCC operative, Mohammed Idris was caught on tape giving hints on how to defeat the anti-graft commission at the court to one Abdulbari Yusuf, the younger brother of the suspect.

The operative, who is a lawyer and policeman was immediately suspended after the leaked audio conversation he had with Abdulbari was released by SaharaReporters.

Idris had in a leaked audio conversation with Abdulbari said he was angry when he saw the judgment against the retired Naval officer.

He added that the forfeiture case filed against Yusuf Biu at the Federal High Court by his colleague (in the EFCC) was “not strong”, wondering why his lawyer could not defend it.

“But the lawyer that represented at the high court did not do anything. He is a clueless and a useless lawyer. I went to the court, I saw the process and response, they filed forfeiture of his money on non-conviction basis,” he was heard saying.

“Therefore, the lawyer did not do well; he did not demonstrate much to allow the court in Abuja to finally forfeit it; because even the courts in Abuja are not in support of the commission. So, if it were in Lagos, it would’ve become something else. But Abuja, he did not put much defence. The defence is not really strong. But like Kabir told me, they employed a Senior Advocate.

“There are so many Senior Advocates that don’t even have understanding of what the EFCC does. If we file an application or charges, we will get away with it because they don’t even know anything in relation to criminal proceedings. They said Ameh is very good.”

When asked about Yusuf Biu’s chances at the appellate court, the EFCC operative said, “The chances are that first of all, he must show that the properties he acquired were not through the government, he must show that he acquired the properties through other means. If he cannot show that he acquired through other means, that means he cannot claim the money.

“And based on the provision that he has proved to be a public servant and he works with the government of a country and he is still in service and all this money is not his entitlement, he has not acquired them. So, if he cannot show that the property or the money was acquired through other means, then he must forfeit the said property.

“Recently, a court of appeal set aside a case of the Executive Director of First Bank, Dauda Lawan. It was set aside recently. Although I and my colleague, we got the settling at the lower court and I later stopped following up on the case. We voluntarily forfeited some of the money, sometimes. At court of appeal lately, they declared judgment against us because he demonstrated how he got the properties. But if he tries to go ahead to file ordinary brief of argument, we will lose the case again.

“This person that filed this brief of argument against your brother did not file something that is very strong, despite that she got judgment. That really got me angry, when I saw that, immediately the lady went out, I called Kabir and told him everything.

“Walahi, he (lawyer) was so stupid to surrender. He could have fought the case and demonstrated like that of inheritance, if he had fought hard, maybe they wouldn’t have pronounced the judgment by now.”

In 2020, Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu of a Federal High Court in Abuja ordered the permanent forfeiture of about N500 million found to be fraudulently amassed by the military officer. The fund was forfeited to the Nigerian government.

The total amount forfeited was N392,695,857.87, including $91,955.38 and the sum of £15,050 held in domiciliary accounts.

Yusuf Biu, who was the second-in-command to the Chief of Account and Budget, Naval Headquarters (NHQ), held the cash in seven accounts- both private and corporate in two banks.

The seven accounts were operated under the name of a company, Bitmas Enterprise, in Zenith Bank while two were held in Yusuf Biu’s name in the defunct Skye Bank, now Polaris Bank.

Following the forfeiture, SaharaReporters gathered that Biu fled Nigeria to Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

The EFCC and National Intelligence Agency also asked the Nigeria Immigration Service and Interpol to place him on a watch list and have him arrested at the point of entry or exit.

However, Yusuf Biu sneaked back to the country in October 2021 after he illegally obtained a passport with the help of some corrupt government officials through the Niger Republic, a source told SaharaReporters.

SaharaReporters had reported how Yusuf once boasted of giving money to many EFCC operatives including the commission’s Director of Operations.

The retired military officer disclosed this to his workers after illegally reopening two of his hotels sealed by the anti-graft agency.

“After EFCC marked Rtd Tahir Yusuf’s (Biu) hotels in Kaduna and Sokoto, guess what he did, he asked his people to wipe and clean the EFCC markings. This man is so arrogant. As we are talking, business activities are ongoing in the hotels,” a source had told SaharaReporters.

He had added, “One of his staff (members) said he told them not to panic as those who came to seal off the property are fake EFCC operatives.

“He was boasting around that he has reached out to the EFCC through his younger brother, Abdulbari Yusuf, who is a banker with Zenith Bank, Maiduguri branch.

“He said he gave money to many EFCC operatives, including a Director of Operations, so nothing can be done to him again.”