N32.8bn Pension Fraud: EFCC re-arrests convicted ex-director

Acting EFCC Chairman, Ibrahim Magu
Suspended EFCC Acting Chairman, Ibrahim Magu

The EFCC said it has re-arrested a former assistant director in the federal civil service, John Yusuf, who was convicted for a N32.8 billion pension fraud.

Mr Yusuf was tried on a 20-count charge in 2013 alongside four other officials – Atiku Abubakar, a permanent secretary; Ahmed Wada, a director; Veronica Onyegbula, a cashier; and Sani Zira, an ICT officer.

He, thereafter, pleaded guilty to converting N2 billion of the police pension to personal use.

After his guilty plea, Abubakar Talba, the trial judge of the High Court of the Federal Territory, Abuja, sentenced him to two years jail term for each of the three counts he pleaded guilty to.

But surprisingly, the judge gave him the option of avoiding jail with a fine of N250,000 for each of the counts (N750, 000).

The conviction sparked national outrage, with activists describing the judgement as an ‘handshake’ ruling.

The former director was, however, to forfeit properties traced to him by EFCC, valued at N325 million.

He was thus technically “permitted to retain about N1 billion after paying his fines and losing the N325 million worth of properties traced to him,” the EFCC said.

Not satisfied

Dissatisfied with the high court’s ruling, the EFCC approached the appellate court to set aside the judgment.

Mr Yusuf subsequently argued that the notice of appeal was filed outside the mandatory 90 days and was, therefore, in contravention of Section 24 (2)(b) of the Court of Appeal Act 2010. He asked the court to dismiss the appeal.

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However, the appeal court m dismissed his objection.

Mr Yusuf was apprehended in Gombe State according to a statement from the EFCC on Monday.

The commission also said it has secured a remand order by Justice Baba Yusuf of the Federal Capital Territory High Court, that enables the ex-pension director “to serve his six years jail term in the Kuje custodial facility.”

When PREMIUM TIMES contacted the EFCC spokesperson, Dele Oyewale, on Tuesday, for details, he said, “he (convict) was arrested recently” and declined further comment.

Pension scam

The pension scam involved several billions of naira stolen from retired police officers.

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Mr Yakubu and his colleagues were suspended indefinitely in 2012 after the scandal broke.

The EFCC said the complex scheme involved several transfers of huge sums between banks and use of illegal accounts and falsification of names; which were said to have been conducted between the officials and a former Director of Police Pension Fund, Esai Dangabar.

Mr Dangabar was charged to court. He later told the EFCC part of the money was shared among the officials and the pension committees of the Senate and the House of Representatives.

The National Assembly, at the time, denied the allegations, calling it a “pack of lies”. It asked him to provide proof that he shared the money with its members.


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