Alleged N20bn Pension Fraud: EFCC amends charges against defendants

EFCC Officials
EFCC Officials

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Tuesday re-arraigned six persons accused of N20 billion fraud in the Police Pension Scheme.

In a statement signed by the EFCC spokesperson, Tony Orilade, on Tuesday, he said the accused were arraigned before Justice Hussein Yusuf of the Federal High Court, sitting in Maitama, Abuja, on an amended 18-count charges of criminal breach of trust.

The accused are: Atiku Kigo, Ahmed Wada, Veronica Onyegbula, Sani Zira, Uzoma Attang, Christian Madubuke and Esai Dangabar (now deceased).

Mrs Attang, a former chief accountant in the police pension office, is standing trial for theft and abuse of office.

She was initially arraigned in 2013 with five others – Esai Dangabar, Atiku Abubakar Kigo, Uzoma Cyril Attang, Ahmed Inuwa Wada, Mrs. Veronica Ulonma Onyegbula, Sani Habila Zira, and Christian Madubuke – on April 10, before Justice Baba.

The EFCC believes the accused persons used their offices to divert the said amount sourced from the Nigeria Police Pension funds in the account domiciled at First Bank of Nigeria Plc for personal use.

According to part of the charges, they committed the crime between January 2008 and June 2011.

The EFCC said the offences are punishable under Section 97 of the Penal Code Act Cap, 532, Laws of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, Nigeria 2007.

The court in 2013 had granted them bail in the sum of N10 million with two sureties, one of whom must not be less than an officer on grade level 14.

The sureties, the judge also said, must live within the jurisdiction of the court. The sureties were, however, to depose to an affidavit of means which must be verified by the EFCC.

The accused persons were also to deposit their national passports before the court.

A not-for-profit organisation, Paths to Nigeria Freedom, in 2017 also petitioned the Force Criminal Investigations Department, Alagbon Close, Lagos over the matter.

The petitioner alleged that some serving police officers attached to the Police Pension Office reportedly connived to defraud both the government and others of the sum.

Today’s Court Hearing

At the resumed trial, prosecution counsel, Oluwaleke Atolagbe, asked the court to withdraw the initial charges as he had a substitution.

The development followed the death of Esai Dangabar, who is a principal defendant in the trial.

The defendants pleaded not guilty to the charges when read to them.
Justice Yusuf adjourned the matter till March 25, 21, and April 22, 2020, for the continuation of trial.

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