Former Director-General of the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), Benjamin Dikki, on Tuesday told an FCT high court that EFCC operatives forced him to make a commitment to refund N1 billion.
Dikki is being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), alongside his company, Kebna Studio and Communications Limited before Justice Yusuf Halilu.
He was dragged to court, on four-count charge, bordering on receiving bribe and abuse of office.
He was alleged to have received N1 billion bribe from Bestworth Insurance Brokers, for his role in facilitating the approval of outstanding insurance premiums and claims of deceased and incapacitated staff of the defunct Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN).
The defendants were alleged to have committed the offence, which EFCC stated, was contrary to Section 17(1)(a) of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2000, and punishable under the same Act, between Jan. and Feb. 2015, when he was serving as BPE DG.
He testified in a trial-within-trial, to contest the voluntariness of the statements, allegedly made by him.
Dikki told the court that he was informed on Aug. 29, 2016, by an EFCC operative from Zuru that the commission had been looking for him and had gone to arrest his wife and son.
He said this surprised him, because he did not as he receive any invitation from the anti-graft agency.
”I agreed to appear at the EFCC office on Sept. 1, 2016.
“On arrival at the commission, I was taken to the team leader, one Bashir.
“Bashir told me that the commission had finished its investigation and that there was nothing to say, other than to write a statement that I will refund the N1 billion, paid into the account of Kebna Studio.
“I told him I that cannot make such commitment and he said i was wasting their time,” he told the court.
He said inspite of the fact that he told the officer that he could not make such a commitment, the operatives insisted and later took him to the commission’s cell.
He added that he was detained in the cell from 6pm to 7:40pm.
Dikki said he was neither with his lawyer, Ali Suberu, when he was made to write his statements, nor advised to get any lawyer before writing the statements.
He further told the court that, “on Sunday, Sept. 4, 2016, Bashir came into the cell and told me that i was the one detaining myself because i was blowing long grammar, that once i commit to refund, i would be released.”
He said for the sake of his freedom, he made arrangements for N50 million payment to be made to EFCC, adding that the money came late on Monday, Sept. 5, 2016, and it was after then that he was released the following day.
Under cross examination by EFCC counsel, Chris Mshellia, Dikki told the court that he was not arrested by the EFCC.
According to him, he wrote statements after being cautioned that anything he wrote would be used against him in court.
”I had no option but to write the statements.
“The operatives tried to dictate what I should write in my statement.
“I was harassed and tortured, psychologically by the operatives,” he said..
After his testimony, Justice Halilu adjourned until Jan. 16, 2024 for adoption of processes in the trial-within-trial. (NAN)