1st March, 2021
By Nimot Adetola Sulaimon
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, (EFCC), on Monday arraigned a former Director-General of the Bureau of Public Enterprises, (BPE), Benjamin Ezra Dikki, over N26 billion PHCN severance benefit scam.
He was docked before Justice Yusuf Halilu of the Federal Capital Territory High Court, Abuja on four counts of alleged corruption and abuse of office.
Dikki who was docked alongside his Company, Kebna Studios & Communications Limited, allegedly received about a billion Naira as gratification from Bestworth Insurance Brokers for his role in facilitating the approval of outstanding insurance premiums and claims of deceased and incapacitated staff of Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN).
Count one of the charges reads; “that you Benjamin Ezra Dikki, while being the Director-General of Bureau of Public Enterprise and also the Managing Director of Kebna Studios & Communications Limited, and Kebna Studios & Communications Limited, on or about 30th day of January 2015, in Abuja, within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, did corruptly accepts as reward the sum of N250, 000,000.00 (Two Hundred and Fifty Million Naira) only through Kebna Studios & Communications Limited’s Skye Bank Account No.1771649525 from Bestworth Insurance Brokers Limited for your role in facilitating the approval of outstanding insurance premiums and claims of deceased and incapacitated staff of Power Holding Company of Nigeria( PHCN), and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 17(1)(a) of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences ACT, 2000 and punishable under Section (17)(c) of the same Act”.
However, the defendants pleaded ”not guilty’’, when the charges were read to them.
In view of their plea, prosecution counsel Benjamin Menji asked the Court for a date to commence trial and to remand the defendant at a Nigerian Correctional Service facility.
“We shall be asking for a date to enable us to assemble our witnesses and to prove the entire counts against the defendants and we shall urge the court to remand the first defendant in a Correctional facility pending commencement of his trial,” he said.
Counsel for the first defendant, Abdul Muhammed urged the court to grant his client bail citing Section 158, 162 and 163 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, ACJA.
But Menji opposed the oral bail application, arguing that the defendant should file their applications formally to enable the prosecution to respond accordingly.
“We shall strongly be opposing the oral application, the reason being that we have facts that we want to place before this Honorable Court. And the only way to do that is by way of affidavit, why bail should not be granted. For this reason, they should come formally and we will bring all we have and place before this Court so that the court can be able to look at it and sieve from what we are bringing.”
Justice Halilu remanded the defendant in Suleja Correctional Centre and adjourned till March 3, for consideration of bail application.