From Yakubu Ahmed BK, Birnin Kebbi
Alhaji Mohammed Arzika Dakingari, Kebbi State ex accountant general who was convicted on all ten counts charges of corrupt enrichment to the tune of N1.6b by a Court of Appeal and handed down a 70-year jail sentence had successfully escaped out of the country.
It would be recalled that the Governor Sa’idu Dakingari era AG had initially been set free by a High Court in Kebbi.
On the day the Court of Appeal was to pass its judgment, the former AG was curiously absent at the court, a situation that fueled suspicion that the man had prior knowledge of his impending conviction.
A very reliable source in Birnin Kebbi had hinted this reporter that although the 70-year jail term was to run concurrently, the former AG was said to be very averse to serving any jail term on account of the stigma associated with it and the fact that at nearly 70 years of age and with health challenges dogging his life, he and his legal team decided to explore the option of running away to avert his serving in jail.
The source disclosed that three days before the conviction, a plan was hatched and the man was taken to the Kamba border with Niger from where he easily melted away.
Another impeccable source confided that Arzika Dakingari is now comfortably domiciled in a rented three bed room apartment on the outskirts of Niamey, the Niger Republic capital.
The intention is for the convict to lie very low, remain indoors for months and allow matters to calm before all options of reprieve are explored; including the option of appealing to the supreme court and assembling a team of crack lawyers to upturn the conviction.
It is suspected that although Mohammed Arzika had lost most of his money and assets to forfeiture and cost of litigation, the man will use his connections through high level contacts to survive in a country that has faced severe economic stress and hardship.
When the judgment was passed, Birnin Kebbi, the Kebbi State capital went wild with all manner of conflicting conjectures and interpretations.
While his reign as AG lasted, Arzika enjoyed positive portrayal on account of his well known philanthropic activities.
Although he appeared apolitical and unassuming, the man’s house was always a bee hive of activities with people trooping in from all corners with different demands of requests for financial lifeline.
He had a reputation for visiting hospitals and offering financial assistance to those on admission for various ailments.