Police Pension Fund Scam: Another N9billion Uncovered
The financial mess rocking the Pension Fund Board is now deepened as the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) yesterday said it has uncovered another N9billion fraud in the Police Pension Office.
It will be recalled that the senate on Tuesday said it also uncovered a N3billion kept in a secret account in one of the old generation banks.
Investigation by the EFCC revealed that the cash was withdrawn between 2007 and 2008.
Already, some of the six suspects standing trial over the N32.8billion police pension scam are said to have been involved.
The six suspects on trial before Justice Abubakar Talba of the FCT High Court in Gudu are the Permanent Secretary in the Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Atiku Abubakar Kigo, Esai Dangabar, Ahmed Inuwa Wada, John Yakubu Yusufu, Mrs. Veronica Ulonma Onyegbula and Sani Habila Zira.
Also, investigation revealed that the anti-corruption agency has kept key witnesses who will testify against the six suspects in protective custody.
These facts are contained in a counter-affidavit deposed to in court by the EFCC through one of its detectives, Simon Iorzua, who was a member of the team that discovered the N32.8billion scam.
The EFCC’s deposition reads in part: “That the team is still investigating the accused/applicants on account of other funds allegedly misappropriated by them while at the Police Pension Office.
“That apart from the present charge, our team also discovered that the accused/applicants in the period of 2007 – 2008 withdrew N9 billion with First Bank and there is an ongoing investigation on the involvement of the accused/applicants.
“That our team further stumbled on some other accounts being operated by the accused/applicants in other commercial banks which they did not disclose to our team during interrogation.
“That the Commission is still investigating other complaints against the applicants bordering on money laundering, fraudulent acquisition of properties and misappropriation of public funds.”
The EFCC expressed concern about the safety of some of its key prosecution witnesses.
Although the commission did not give the exact figure of the witnesses in the affidavit, a source said “they are more than 10”.
The affidavit added: “That the accused/applicants corruptly enriched themselves as public servants and diverted the funds of the Police Pension Office to their personal use.
“That I know as a fact that the evidence gathered against the Applicants by my team is overwhelming…
“That some of the proposed prosecution witnesses are civil servants who worked with or under the accused/applicants as junior workers at one time or the other.
“That many of the proposed prosecution witnesses are now apprehensive and some of them are in protective custody as a result of continuous threat to their lives by the applicants’ agents and persons connected with them.”
The anti-graft commission gave the details of its investigation and specific findings on how the funds were looted.
It added: “That the EFCC received an intelligence report to the effect that over N19 billion was withdrawn from the account of the Police Pension Office by the 5th Applicant (Mrs. Veronica Ulonma Onyegbula) herein in violation of the e-payment circular and the financial regulation.
“That it was alleged in the intelligence report that at various times, the 1st – 3rd accused/applicants (Esai Dangabar, Atiku Abubakar Kigo and Ahmed Inuwa Wada) in collaboration with the other applicants, authorised the fraudulent withdrawals of the said funds and shared same among themselves.
“That the Commission accessed the intelligence report and found same to be credible. The intelligence report was further referred to my team for further investigation.
“That my team went into action by investigating the case and our investigation revealed the following.
“The 1st accused/applicant (Esai Dangabar) was the director in the Police Pension Office between 2008 and 2009.
“That the 2nd accused/applicant (Atiku Abubakar Kigo) was a director in the Police Pension Office between February 2010 and February 2011.
“That the 3rd accused/applicant (Ahmed Inuwa Wada) was a director in the Police Pension Office between February 2010 and June 2011.
“That the 4th accused/applicant (John Yakubu Yusufu) was an Assistant Director, accounts in the Police Pension Office between February 2009 and September 2011.
“The 5th accused/applicant (Mrs. Veronica Ulonma Onyegbula) has been with the Police Pension Office since 1999 and she is currently the cashier of the office.”
The 6th accused/applicant (Sani Habila Zira) “is the Head of ICT (Information Communication Technology).