How I Survived The EFCC Media Trial In A Civil Case: Abdulhafiz Umar Barau
A renowned businessman, Abdulhafiz Umar Barau, has narrated how he went through a media trial in 2016 at the hands of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, over a civil matter.
He clarified in a chat with journalists about his experience doing business in Nigeria.
Barau narrated his ugly experience in 2016 when a supply he made went wrong and how the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, decided to go to a media trial and allege that he obtained money under pretence, which was not the case; it was a business transaction that went sideways.
He said that he got a product that was rejected in Kano State and supplied it to a filling station in Kaduna State.
“The client did not pay the money immediately, and I was sick, and at the same time I was having an issue with someone that cheated on me back in 2009, and I caught him, so the person by name, David, pleaded with me not to take him to the authorities (security agencies), which I didn’t. Instead, he parked his Toyota Camry as a guarantee that he would pay me back the money he took from me in a week, Barau said.
Instead of his debtor paying the money owed him, he rather went to the Intelligent Response Team (IRT) to claim that someone had seized his car.
“So, I was arrested by the then IRT and detained with the claim that I seized someone’s car and refused to return it. While in detention, there was no way I could communicate with the clients that supplied
While Barau was in detention at IRT and there was no means of communication, those that supplied him with Automobile Gas Oil (AGO) decided to petition the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on the allegation that he took away their diesel product worth N12.150 million.
So, when asked how EFCC came to know his whereabouts, he said, “So EFCC, while conducting their investigation, located me at the IRT detention and transferred me to their facility, which I willingly followed because I was detained without investigation or hearing out my part of the story.
While he was in IRT Detention, the car was released to the man who owed Barau while he was left incommunicado in detention.
Barau was put under mental torture, and so under duress, whatever they asked him, he acceded because that was his first time going through mental torture in that kind of situation at the EFCC detention.
“They were telling me that if I deny any question they asked me, they will make sure I go to jail immediately. I took the threat seriously, so I was kept in EFCC custody for over a month, Barau reiterated.
Barau was released on bail because he was seriously sick while in detention. He was mandated to provide the money of N12.150 million within a month, while they did not care if the Petrol station, where he supplied the diesel, paid him, as all they wanted was that he pay the N12.150 million.
Meanwhile, the main company he supplied was not reachable. It was later he was told that the owner is late and that the Petrol Station in Kaduna has been sold to a new owner.
“I tried to bring the attention of the IPO to my predicament then, but they didn’t give me a listening ear. One of the IPO was threatening me, saying that he would deal with me if I did not do as he said, Barau reiterated.
Further investigation revealed that the IPO had requested some amount of money he would share with his team members for the case to die down, which Barau didn’t oblige.
“Since then, nobody called me again from the EFCC over the matter, and I was not charged to court at all.
Unknown to Barau, his picture has been posted online with his name attached to a wrong allegation stating that he obtained money under pretence, which was not the case; it was a business transaction that went sideways.
When asked how he felt after his encounter with the EFCC, he said, “I am a businessman, and one way or another I will have financial issues or cases, but how can someone rely on getting fair justice when an anti-corruption agency tends to spoil your character and image even before you are briefed?
Despite his arrest by the EFCC, he was never charged and was never brought to court after they released him on bail.
Umar advised that most cases should be weighed before the intervention of agencies such as the EFCC or ICPC, as most cases are civil cases that can be solved in court without the anti-corruption agencies.