13 November 2012

Nigeria: Pension Scam Suspects Have Case to Answer, Says Court

Photo: Vanguard
Pension scam

An Abuja High Court Monday dismissed the applications to quash charges filed by four of the six accused arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), for allegedly defrauding the Police Pension Office of N32.8 billion.

The six suspects are Esai Dangabar, Atiku Abubakar Kigo, Ahmed Inuwa Wada, John Yakubu Yusufu, Mrs. Veronica Ulonma Onyegbula and Sani Habila Zira.

Kigo was the director of the Police Pension Office, before he was made a permanent secretary.

They had filed applications before the court seeking to quash the charges against them on the grounds that the court not only lacked jurisdiction to entertain the case, but that the charges against them were frivolous and lacking in merit.

But in his ruling, Justice Mohammed Talba said the suspects failed to supply relevant material before the court to warrant the quashing of the case against them.

He also said that based on the proof of evidence before the court, the prosecution had presented its case in such a way that a prima-facie had been established against them.

The judge however adjourned till January 28, 2013, to hear the argument in respect of the applications filed by the first and third accused persons, Esai Dangabar and Ahmed Inuwa Wada respectively to quash the charges against them.

The accused persons who were arraigned on a 16-count charge of conspiracy and criminal breach of trust on March 29, were on April 3, granted bail in the sum of N10 million each with two sureties in like sum, 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 must however depose to affidavit of means which must be verified by the EFCC.

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

They had all fulfilled the bail conditions.

It was also learnt that shortly afterward, the EFCC approached the court for an interim order to attach and take possession of the asset of the six accused persons.

The order was granted by the Chief Judge of the Federal Capital Territory, Justice Lawal H. Gumi, who on July 25, ordered the freezing of the bank accounts of all the accused persons pending the hearing and final determination of the case against them.

Fifteen of the properties, which were ordered to be forfeited on interim basis, belonged to Dangabar, 11 to Onyegbula, six to Wada, five to Kigo and four each to Yusuf and Zira.

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