July 21, 2024

In a landmark ruling on Thursday, May 23, 2024, Justice O.O. Abike-Fadipe of the Special Offences Court in Ikeja, Lagos, sentenced Idris Bakare to four years in prison for defrauding British Airways of N35.6 million.

Bakare faced a four-count charge of stealing, as filed by the Lagos Zonal Command of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). The charges stem from allegations that he dishonestly converted the sum of N35,672,845.00 belonging to British Airways.

The charges against Bakare specified that between October 23, 2019, and December 31, 2019, he, along with his associates, Dauda Adegboyega and Zuraai Gold Ventures, allegedly diverted the funds. Bakare pleaded guilty to all charges when arraigned.

Following Bakare’s guilty plea, EFCC prosecutor Z.I. Atiku called EFCC investigative officer Mojibola Adekanbi to present a detailed review of the case.

Adekanbi revealed that British Airways had petitioned the EFCC on January 19, 2022, accusing Total Nigeria Plc and Asharam Energy of conspiring to over-invoice aircraft Jet A1 fuel.

The investigation uncovered that Bakare, a former contract staff member at Total Plc, siphoned Jet A1 fuel intended for British Airways and allegedly sold it to Dauda Sulaiman. Adekanbi detailed how Bakare received N40,676,000.00 from Sulaiman as proceeds from the illicit sale of the fuel.

The prosecution presented several pieces of evidence, including the petition from British Airways, Bakare’s statements, and his bank records, which were admitted as exhibits by the court. When allowed to address the court, Bakare expressed remorse, apologizing to British Airways, Total Plc, Nigerians, and his family.

He pleaded for leniency, promising never to engage in fraudulent activities again. His lawyer, Olufemi Bisuga, also requested the court to show mercy.

Justice Abike-Fadipe sentenced Bakare to one year in prison on each of the four counts, with an option to pay a fine of N1 million for each count.

The sentences are to run concurrently. Additionally, Bakare was ordered to repay the outstanding balance of N36,676,000.00 over three years starting from July 2024. The judge also directed that the N4 million Bakare had already refunded be returned to British Airways.

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