The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, on Thursday, November 23rd, arraigned Umar Munir Abubakar, Henry Ekhasomi Sambo, Sir Adebayo Adebowale Aderibigbe, Chief Richard U. Uche and Aderemi Adegboyega before Justice Silvanus Orji of the Federal Capital Territory High Court, sitting in Apo, Abuja, on a 26-count charge, bordering on conspiracy, abuse of office and illegal diversion of public funds.
Trouble started for Abubakar, who was a former Managing Director of Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF), and co-defendants, some of who were former board members and current staff of NSITF, when a concerned citizen wrote a petition to the Commission, alleging that the accused persons have been abusing their positions in their office thereby cornering public funds in billions.
In the light of this, the operatives of the EFCC swiftly swung into action and after thorough investigations were carried out, revelations show that apart from receiving benefits in dollars from people to do favours while discharging their official duties, between 2012 to 2015, the accused persons allegedly conspired and diverted the sum of Eighteen billion Naira (N18,000,000,000), being contribution from the Federal Government of Nigeria as take-off grants and Employees Compensation Scheme (ECS) for Ministries Departments and Agencies.
The said money was diverted into personal accounts by an e-payment mandate.
The offence contravenes Section 311 of the penal code cap 532 LFN (Abuja) 1990 and punishable under Section 312 of the same code.
The accused persons pleaded not guilty to the charge preferred against them. In view of their pleas, counsel to the EFCC, Steve Odiase, urged the court to fix a date for trial and to remand the accused persons in prison custody pending trial.
However, counsels to the defendants, J. K Kolawole, Napoleon O. Idenala, J. A. Kalu, J. C. Njikonye and Obafemi Adewale, made their various bail applications and prayed the court to grant the defendants bail on liberal terms.
Consequently, Justice Orji granted the accused persons bail and warned that anyone who fails to fulfil his bail application, shall be remanded in prison custody.
“Each of the defendants is admitted to bail in the sum of N50million with two sureties in like sum. The two sureties shall be ordinarily residents in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja”, the judge ruled.
He further ruled that one of the sureties must be a civil servant of at least the level of a director.
The accused persons were also warned not to leave the country without the permission of the court. The matter was adjourned to February 5, 2018, for trial