Law News
Spanish embassy urges EFCC to revisit fraud charge against lawyer

SPAIN’S embassy in Nigeria has called on the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), to revisit the case involving a lawyer, Alhaji Bashir Dalhatu who represented a Spanish firm, Domaco Holdings in a $15 million out-of-court deal but allegedly remitted part of it to the company.

The call is contained in a letter addressed to the chairman of the EFCC and endorsed by Juan Jose Otamendi Garcia-Jalon of the Economic and Commercial Counselor of Embassy of Spain.

According to Garcia-Jalon, sometime in June 1984, the Federal Government of Nigeria in error detained a Spanish Ship, MT Izarra, which belonged to Domaco Holdings for alleged bunkering. The firm is a company registered to carry out business under Spanish law.

The letter went on: “The ship was seized outside the territorial waters of Nigeria and, even if its tank and ballast were empty, it was charged with oil bunkering, alongside its crew of 24 Spanish men. Damaco Holdings took out an action against the government of Nigeria in a Spanish court claiming the sum of $59m as damages. Negotiation ensued between Nigeria and the company and it was later resolved that the sum of $15m be paid to the company as out-of-court settlement.

‘‘Damaco Holdings was represented by its lawyer, Alhaji Bashir Dalhatu, who received the said sum of $15m on behalf of his client. The company maintains that out of the approved sum of $15m, their lawyer remitted only part of it. They claim that the balance of $8.5m is yet to be released to them despite several attempts to get this claim from their lawyer.”

Garcia-Jalon noted that the matter was reported to the EFCC under the leadership of Nuhu Ribadu, who set up an investigation into the allegation.

The letter added: “This led to the arrest and detention of Dalhatu on February 18, 2006. The matter was charged to court and since then, we have not heard anything in the matter again, and the money in contention has not yet been paid to the company.

“So, I would sincerely appreciate if you could use your good offices to revisit this case. I want to point out that according to the Spanish company, Dalhatu asked Damaco Holdings to send a pre-signed document acknowledging receipt of the money. This allegation was investigated by EFCC and found to be true, since Dalhatu was only able to show remittance voucher of only $8.5 million.”

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