N439m pension scam: Ex-Director secures N50m bail

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One of the seized properties

One of the seized properties

After spending two days in prison custody, former Director of the Pensions Department, Office of the Head of Service of the Federation, Dr Sani Teidi Shuaibu, who was accused of stealing N439 million, yesterday, regained his freedom.

Justice Adamu Bello of a Federal High Court in Abuja granted the accused person bail in the sum of N50 million, even as he was ordered to produce one surety in like sum.

According to the trial judge, the said surety must be a responsible citizen who is not only resident within the jurisdiction of the high court, but must  have a property valued at nothing less than N50 million.

The judge said the title deed of the property must be verified and deposited with the registrar of the court, while the international passport of the accused should remain in the court’s custody until the final determination of the case.

Meanwhile, before fixing July 19 to commence hearing on the substantive four-count criminal charge preferred against the ex-Pension boss by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Justice Bello, insisted that the accused person must sign a letter of undertaking vowing never to threaten any of the prosecuting witnesses.

It would be recalled that counsel to the EFCC, Chief Godwin Obla, alleged that the accused person threatened to kill four of the principal witnesses who are billed to testify against him.

Obla told the court that the affected witnesses had already written a “Save Our Soul” letter to the Deputy Commissioner of Police, Criminal Investigation Department, CID, in Abuja, even as he tendered the said letter as an exhibit before the trial court.

However, Justice Bello, yesterday, said he would not hesitate to send the former Director to prison should the accused person further harass any of the witnesses.

The anti-graft agency had alleged that the ex-pension boss connived with four separate companies and diverted funds meant for retired pensioners in the country, saying it has successfully traced how some of the looted funds were spent by the accused person.

EFCC gave names of the conniving companies which it also joined as accused persons in the matter as, Badawulu Ventures Limited, Ebunu Attah Investment, Muha Millenium Motors Limited and Riba-ile Petroleum Limited.

The companies were said to have provided their bank accounts for the illicit transfer of monies from the pension funds, sequel to an agreed sharing formula between them and the former pensions Director.

The prosecuting agency said it has garnered sufficient evidence to prove that the 1st accused person, Dr Shaibu, used proceeds of the uncanny deal to purchase a hotel in Abuja, adding that the said fraud was perpetuated at various times between April 2009 and March 15, 2010.

Specifically, the ex-pension boss was accused of conspiring with the accused companies to purchase Brifina Hotels Limited situated at Plot 1106 Cadastral Zone BO2 Durumi District Area 1, Abuja, with Certificate of Occupancy No: 1807w-1cc4z-6723r-cf4eu-20, property of one A.E Bright Future Motors Nig. Ltd, to the tune of N399million, and used another N40million to renovate the renovate the hotel.

EFCC noted that the reason why the 1st accused person embraced the rigorous process of firstly transferring the pension funds to the accounts of the companies, before withdrawing same through proxies, was to conceal the illicit origin of the resources, thereby committed an offence contrary to section 17(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2004 and punishable under section 14 (1) (b) of the same Act.

Meanwhile, shortly after the accused person took his plea on Monday, trial Justice Adamu Bello declined to allow him on bail, saying he should remain in Prison till yesterday when the merit of his bail application would be considered.

Remarkably, the pension boss is equally facing a similar trial over his alleged involvement in another N12 billion pension scam.

He is facing trial alongside five others for allegedly swindling the federal government through over 130 bogus contracts purportedly awarded to 25 different companies between 2008 and 2010.

Others on trial are the Deputy Director, Pensions Finance and Account at the Office of the Head of Service, who was a signatory to pension accounts, Mrs Phina Ukamaka Chidi, an ex-Assistant Director in-charge of variation, Mr Mohammed Katun Ahmed, the cash officer of pensions accounts, Mr Garba Abdullahi Tahir and the Head Final Accounts at the OHCSF, Mr. Emmanuel Aderemi Olanipekun.


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