The Lagos zonal office of EFCC on Tuesday, April 9 2019, arraigned eight suspected members of a syndicate of illegal gold dealers before Justice A.O. Faji of the Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos on a three-count charge bordering on dealing in gold mine without lawful authorisation, conspiracy and being in possession of raw gold without lawful authorization and permission.
The suspects are identified respectively to be Babagana Zannah, who is the alleged owner of the raw gold bars and the likes of Ahmed Hamza Mannir; Manasseh Auta; Dahiru Habib Bali; Isa Umaru Ammani; Ajakaye Oladipo; Bamanja Jonah Samuel and Lasisi Aisha.
Meanwhile, the second suspect identified as Mannir, who was apprehended onboard an Emirates flight to Dubai on March 1, 2019 at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Ikeja, Lagos, was allegedly assisted by the third to eight defendants, who are employees of the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria, FAAN.
Those who worked for the FAAN allegedly carried the raw gold bars through different doors, while carefully avoiding going through the scanners which are at the airport and handed them to the second defendant at the point of boarding the plane.
One of the counts reads:
“That you, Babagana Zannah, Ahmed Hamza Mannir, Manasseh Auta, Dahiru Habib Bali, Isa Umaru Ammani , Ajakaye Oladipo, Bamanja Jonah Samuel and Lasisi Aisha, on or about 1st March, 2019 in Lagos, within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, conspired amongst yourselves to defraud the Federal Government of Nigeria of the revenue accruing from the export of gold mineral and without the permission of the appropriate authority and committed an offence contrary to Section 1(8)(a) of the Miscellaneous Offence Act punishable under the same Act.”
The defendants/accused in the case pleaded not guilty to the charge preferred against them.
In view of their pleas of not guilty, the prosecuting counsel, Ayanfe Ogunsina, asked the court for a trial date and prayed that the defendants be remanded in prison till further investigations have neem concluded.
Justice Faji of the court in Ikoyi, Lagos, further adjourned the case to April 16, 2019 for ruling on the bail applications and ordered the defendants to be remanded in prison custody.