AN Abuja High Court, on Thursday, remanded a Permanent Secretary in the Federal Pension Office, Atiku Abubakar Kigo and a director,
Esia Dangabar, alongside four others in prison over their alleged involvement in the embezzlement of N32.8 billion belonging to police pensioners.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had arraigned the accused on a16-count criminal charge bordering on conspiracy and criminal breach of trust.
The offence is punishable under section 97 of the Penal Code Act, CAP. 532, Laws of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, 2007.
Others arraigned alongside Kigo and Dangabar were Ahmed Inuwa Wada; John Yakubu Yusufu; Sani Habila Zira and Mrs Veronica Uloma Onyegbula.
There was, however, a mild drama when the accused were docked and their counsel announced appearances before the charge was read.
One J.N Egwuonwu had announced appearance for all the six accused when Adegboyega Awomolo, SAN, stood up and told the court that Egwuonwu’s appearance was a misnomer as two senior advocates were in the court to represent some of the accused.
Another SAN who was in court for the case was Dr Awa Kalu.
It was at this point that the judge asked the accused one after the other, who their counsel was.
Dangabar, the first accused, told the court that the two SANs were his counsel, while the other five said they
contacted the chambers of J.K Gadzama, SAN, for representation.
The judge again asked Egwuonwu if he was from Gadzama’s chambers and he answered in the affirmative.
All the accused pleaded not guilty to the entire 16- count charge.
Prosecution counsel, Rotimi Jacobs, thereafter asked the court for an adjournment to enable the counsel to argue the bail application.
But Awomolo interjected and said the application for bail had been filed and served.
He argued that the suspects were still presumed innocent until pronounced guilty praying the court to detain the accused in EFCC custody from where they came to the court.
He pleaded with the court to adjourn till today to hear the bail application.
The prosecution counsel objected to hearing of the bail application today and also the detaining of the accused in the EFCC custody.
The trial judge, Justice Talba Mohammed, while adjourning the matter till April 3 for argument on the bail application and May 28 and June 4 for commencement of trial, ordered that all the accused be remanded in prison custody pending the next adjourned date.
Culled from Nigerian Tribune
- N4.56bn pension scam: EFCC seizes Shuaibu’s property – Vanguard News (transformationwatch.com)
- We looted N14.3b pension cash, suspects confess – The Nation (transformationwatch.wordpress.com)
- Trial begins in Nigeria’s N14.3 billion pensions fraud (africanleader.net)