Abuja — It was drama galore at the Federal Capital Territory High Court at Maitama yesterday, as the key suspect in the alleged illegal diversion of over N40billion from the Police Pension Fund, Mrs. Uzoma Cyril Attang, directed thugs to physically assault journalists that came to cover her arraignment.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, had maintained that it successfully traced about N1.1billion to one of the bank accounts operated by Mrs. Attang, who is still in service as Director of Finance and Accounts in the Ministry of Communications.
She was, hitherto, the Chief Accountant of the PPF where she served between 2003 and 2008.
Meanwhile, irked by what she termed "unfavourable media reportage", Attang who was docked by the EFCC, alongside six former police pension officials yesterday, monitored as a horde of thugs she brought to court, attacked photojournalists inside the high court premises.
In the ensuing fracas, two of the photojournalists were severely manhandled, even as it took the intervention of security men to recover their cameras.
It would be recalled that Attang was absent in court when the other alleged pension thieves were initially arraigned before Justice Albubakar Thalba on March 29, 2012 and were subsequently remanded in prison custody.
According to an 18-count amended criminal charge the EFCC entered before the high court, Attang was the accountant in charge of the police pension fund when N7.8billion was stolen through 10,863 cheques.
Aside tracing over 20 choice assets belonging to her, the EFCC, alleged that the accused person personally signed 1,042 cheques to the tune of N1, 141,309,080.25.
The anti-graft agency further alleged that she used several companies to defraud the police pension office, among which included Royal Diadem Business Logistic Limited, Amazing Grace Property Development Company, Enyiuzo Ventures Limited, Status Symbols Rentals Limited, Status Travels and Tours Limited, Quillponte and Anifon Nigeria Limited.
Meantime, she yesterday pleaded not guilty to the charge and was allowed to go home by trial Justice Husseini Baba on the same bail conditions that were previously given to her co-accused persons by Justice Thalba who handled the trial ab-initio.
EFCC opted to transfer the case from Justice Thalba following the slap-on-the-wrist sentence he handed to one of the accused persons, John Yakubu Yusufu, who was on January 28, sentenced to two years imprisonment with a fine option of N750, 000, after he confessed that he conspired with the other accused persons and stole about N23 billion from the police pension fund.
The other accused persons who took turns and pleaded not guilty to the charge were Esai Dangabar, a former Permanent Secretary in the Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Mr. Atiku Abubakar Kigo, Ahmed Inuwa Wada, Mrs. Veronica Uloma Onyegbula, Sani Habila Zira and Christian Madubuike.
Justice Thalba had on April 3, 2012, granted them bail in the sum of N10 million each, just as they were ordered to produce two persons on grade level-14 in the Civil Service that stood surety for each of them.
The court fixed June 3 and 4 to commence hearing on the substantive charge against them.