Five persons accused of impersonating officials of the Federal Inland Revenue Service, FIRS, and deceiving members of the public into parting with money for non-existent jobs, were arraigned before a Federal High Court in Abuja Monday.
The suspects were also accused of making false promotion offers to FIRS staff.
Those arraigned included Alex Oki, David Kachia, Mohammed Shuaibu, Kehinde Jamah, Ogbonna Agwu.
Three other accused persons are at large.
The Federal High Court presided over by Justice Gabriel Kolawole, ordered that the five be remanded in Kuje prison custody until they meet their bail terms.
Count 2 of the charge read: “That you 1. Alex Oki (M), 2. Ogbonna Agwu (M) 3. Shuaibu Mohammed (M), 4. Kehinde Jamar (M), 5. David Nuhu Kachia (M), 6. Aminu Ibrahim (M), (now at large), 7. Onyekachi (aka Don Chris (M) (now at large) and 8. Paschal (aka Sullivan Ajah) now at large) in May 2014, within the jurisdiction of this honourable court unlawfully assumed the character of officers of the Federal Inland Revenue Service for the unlawful purpose of deceiving unsuspecting members of the public into believing that you are authorized officers who could get them employment into the Federal Inland Revenue Service, and you thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 46 of the FIRS Establishment Act (2007).”
The suspects were also accused of deceiving members of the public to pay N16,500; N20,000 and N10,000 at different times into a UBA Account Nos: 3068721925 and 2057796059.
This, said the charge sheet, contradicts Section 419 Criminal Procedure Act, Cap C28 LFN 2007.
Citing the right of the accused persons to bail, and the accused persons’ right to liberty, counsel to the defendants, Ebenezer Abadaki, asked the court to grant bail to the suspects under very liberal terms.
Mr. Abadaki cited Sections 35 (4) and 36 (5) of the 199 Constitution to press home his claims.
On the other hand, the prosecuting Counsel, Chinazo Edeh, agreed before the judge ruled.
According to Mr. Chinonso, the FIRS was not opposed to bail.
He noted that no member of the accused family or friend had applied for bail on behalf of the suspects.
The suspects were nabbed after months of investigation and electronic and telecommunications trail.
The suspects reportedly employed a network of websites, email addresses, computers, telephone lines and bank accounts spread over different parts of the Federal Capital Territory, allegedly to solicit and receive monies from members of the public on a non-existent recruitment into the FIRS.
Some of the suspects promised they would facilitate the promotion of several FIRS officials.
The suspects were said to have sent text messages to spouses, relatives and persons connected to FIRS staff.
After the defendants counsel, Mr. Abadaki, made his plea for bail and Mr. Chinazo did not oppose, Justice Kolawole adjourned sitting for about one and a half hours to enable counsels agree on bail conditions.
Afterwards, Justice Kolawole ruled that each of the accused persons be admitted to bail with two civil servants not below the rank of a Level 10 official in any tier of government, with bail in the sum of N5 million each.
Each surety is to provide a letter of introduction from his employers/Head of Department; each surety must own a landed property in Abuja valued at about N10million. Each surety must also present a Tax Clearance Certificate (TCC) in the last preceding three years.
Each of the accused persons were to file application to the Deputy Registrar, Litigations, who must duly verify that the bail conditions have been complied with.
Pending the perfection of the bail and the fulfilment of the bail conditions, Justice Kolawole said the accused persons shall be remanded in Nigeria prisons, Kuje, Abuja.
The accused are to be brought back to court and released once bail conditions were satisfied, Justice Kolawole said as he adjourned the case to December 16, January 28, 2015 and February 5, 2015 for hearing.