Corruption and UnderdevelopmentCrimeDefence & Security

EFCC probes S/Court Registrar over alleged N10bn loot, racketeering

By Paul Michael

Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is probing an allegation of racketeering against Supreme Court Chief Registrar, Ahmed Gambo Saleh.

It was alleged that Saleh has received over N10 billion in bribes from court contractors and other persons with criminal cases with the judiciary.

A whistleblower petitioned EFCC to look into the activities of the Chief Registrar, accused of feeding fat on the court’s funds while leaving vital projects to suffer neglect.

It was alleged that Saleh had connived with Surajo Muhammad, son of the immediate past Chief Justice of Nigeria, Muhammad Tanko, to embezzle public funds.

It was further gathered that Muhammad (Jnr) despite lacking in qualifications and competence to handle judicial matters, was in charge and managed affairs of the apex court and wielded his father’s position as a tool to carry out backroom deals.

“Today (June 1), Surajo could be said to be a de facto head of the SCN as his father seems to have relinquished the administration of the court to him, even when he is not a staff,” the petition sighted by The Gazette noted.

Citing instances of their brazen underhand dealings, the petition said the duo sold off the residence of a Supreme Court justice without the knowledge of Tanko, who was CJN at the time.

“It will interest you to know that a residence of a justice of the Supreme Court located in the villa, Abuja was sold by Gambo and Surajo recently. The underhand dealings between Gambo, Surajo, and the agency so pissed the CJN that he ordered the reversal of the transaction,” added the petition with no. EFCC/PET/HQR/1817/2022 and dated June 1.

Meanwhile, the building was said to have been demolished before the situation was remedied, a situation that rendered the justice who should have been assigned the residents homeless.

The petition further noted that Saleh connived with Muhammad to allegedly withheld the funds meant for purchasing exotic vehicles usually assigned to newly sworn-in justices.

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“Under Gambo and Surajo’s shenanigans, they, JSC were given only a Land Cruiser, albeit refurbished. A Hilux was added after one year, and to date, the Mercedes Benz is still being awaited by the justices,” the petition added.

It was revealed that eight justices sworn in since November 2020 are yet to be properly accommodated and receive the Benz even though the projects were captured in the capital budget for the 2020 fiscal year.

In 2017, Saleh was charged having been accused of diverting N2.2 billion, a matter later withdrawn by the Attorney General of the Federation over a purported plea bargain.

Before the withdrawal of the case by AGF, Saleh was charged with diverting Supreme Court’s N2.2 billion to his personal bank account at the United Bank for Africa PLC, account number: 2027642863.

Saleh, despite fraud charges and allegations, was appointed as the Secretary of the National Judicial Council (NJC), a body responsible for the appointment, promotion, and discipline of judicial officers.

A spokesman for the NJC declined comments on the matter.

Although Saleh then confessed the money belonged to him as it was a collection of cash gifted to him by friends, further investigations revealed that the money was “bribes collected from various court contractors who ended up executing shoddy jobs or outright abandonment,” the petition stressed.

He was also charged with obtaining N21 million gratification from MBA Computes Ltd, N16 million from Dean Musa Nigeria Ltd, N10 million from Willysdave Limited, and N2.4 million gratifications from Welcon Nigeria Ltd, all contractors of the Supreme Court.

The petition also claimed that the Chief Registrar, a public servant, was worth over N10 billion.

Also, the spokesman for the EFCC did not immediately provide updates about the investigation.

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