The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has announced the death of a 52 year old Italian, Mr. Mauro Zanin, who died in the bathroom of the Commission’s detention facility in Abuja, early Tuesday morning.
A statement by the EFCC’s spokesperson Wilson Uwujarena, stated that the Mr Zanin who was arrested for fraudulently obtaining the sum of $111,000 from Gladwaters Nigeria Limited, passed away, two days before he was scheduled to appear in court.
According to the statement, the Italian was “found motionless in the bathroom of the Commission’s detention facility in Abuja at about 4.50 am on June 19, 2012”, adding that “he had apparently committed suicide using his bed sheet.”
“Zanin took his own life a day to his scheduled arraignment. He was supposed to be arraigned before the Federal High Court (5) in Abuja on Wednesday, June 20, 2012.”
All effort by the duty officers and a team of EFCC medical personnel led by Dr. Gideon Osi of the Commission’s Medical Unit to revive him with cardiopulmonary resuscitation proved futile and he was subsequently certified dead at about 5.45 am.
Though all clues point to suicide, the incident has been reported to the Nigeria Police Station, Maitama for investigation.
The deceased was arrested by Officers of the Nigerian Immigration Service following a complaint by one Ahamefula Chibuzor Ewuzie that he fraudulently obtained the sum of $111,000 from Gladwaters Nigeria Limited.
Mr Zanin was transferred to the EFCC on 30th May, 2012 for further investigation and his arrest was officially communicated to the Italian Embassy on 31st May, 2012.
According to the EFCC, Mr Zanin was granted provisional bail on the 31st of May, “but he could not get a surety to take him on bail.”
The anti-graft agency had filed a five count charge against him in court and got a Wednesday, June 20, 2012 as hearing date. He was served the court papers to prepare his defence on Tuesday.
While in detention, Mr. Zanin was visited on May 30, 2012, by Mr. Nicola Bazzani, First Secretary and Deputy Head of Mission at the Italian Embassy; and everyday by his lawyer, Mr.Ugochukwu Onyejiuto.
Speaking on the development, Mr Onyejiuto explained that “it is important to say that I took this matter pro bono, with the hope that he will pay my fees when he is free. I was spending my money feeding him… to my amazement; he refused to let his family know what was going on. He has a 30 year-old son who is a lawyer in Italy but he was always telling them all was well.”
Dr. Mma Wokocha, the complainant expressed shock at the news of the death of the suspect, wondering how she would recover the huge sum of money obtained from her by the deceased.
Giving the fact of the case, the statement read that the deceased, allegedly obtained the money from the company, under the guise of selling used Dredger Italgraghe SGT 200 to them, to execute some dredging contract in the Niger Delta.
The suspect sent them a forged Bill of Laden but their long wait for the ship, MSC Trinidad to berth was futile as the ship indicated had ceased to exist long before they ever met the deceased three years ago.
Mr Zanin’s body has being deposited at a mortuary for autopsy.
Another Italian, Franco Lamolinara, was killed in a failed rescued mission earlier in the year, as a combined force of British troop and Nigerian security operatives tried to rescue him and a Briton, Chris McManus. They were both abducted in 2010.