Lagos, Nigeria (PANA) - A Nigerian High Court sitting in Abuja, the federal capital city, on Thursday remanded six top federal civil servants in prison custody following their alleged complicity in the illegal diversion of 32.8 billion naira (about US$ 220 million) from the Nigeria Police Pensions funds.
According to local media reports, the six are the Permanent Secretary in the Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Mr. Atiku Abubakar Kigo, a Director, Esai Dangabar, and Ahmed Inuwa Wada, John Yakubu Yusufu, Mrs. Veronica Ulonma Onyegbula and Sani Habila Zira.
At the hearing, the six pleaded not guilty to the 16-count criminal charge that was preferred against them by the anti-graft agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Specifically, the EFCC told the court that the accused persons perfected the alleged fraud at Abuja between January 2009 and June 2011.
It alleged that the six conspired and sequentially withdrew monies from the Police Pensions funds in an account domiciled at First Bank of Nigeria and shared it amongst themselves, adding that the third accused person, Inuwa Wada, collected 18 million naira (about US$ 120,000) from Unity Bank Plc, as his reward for retaining the Police Pensions Account with the bank.
According to the EFCC, their offence borders on conspiracy, fraud and criminal breach of trust.
In his ruling, Judge Talba Mohammed, ruled that “There is no law permitting the remand of an accused person in any other place apart from prison custody. Therefore, having entered their plea, the appropriate order for me to make at this juncture is that they should be remanded in prison custody pending the determination of their bail applications”.
He subsequently fixed Tuesday next week to hear their bail applications and adjourned trial on the substantive matter till 28 May.
-0- PANA VAO 30March2012