EFCC finds N1.5b in Shuaibu's accounts, denies exclusion from pension probe

2012-04-20
THE GUARDIAN Newspaper- Abosede Musari

THE Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), has hinted that it had traced N1.5 billion of the allegedly siphoned N4.56 billion pension funds from the Office of Head of Service of the Federation to the account of Dr. Sani Teidi Shuaibu, the former Director of the Pension Accounts in the office.

In its proof of evidence at the Federal High Court, Abuja, which an operative of the EFCC and Team Leader of Pension Fraud Investigation, Aliyu Habibu Adamu, swore to, and obtained by The Guardian last night, the commission explained how it traced the amount to the account of the indicted pension administrator.

Shuaibu is being prosecuted along with 39 others for the scam.

The document revealed the complicity of some banks in the mess in the pension office.

The driver of Dr. Shuaibu, named as Lawal Abdullahi, was also indicted. A cheque book of a non-functioning filling station, which Shuaibu allegedly used to siphon the N1.54 billion was found in the driver’s house in Gwagwalada, a suburb of Abuja.

The proof of evidence also indicated that Abdullahi admitted during interrogation by EFCC that on several occasions he collected money on behalf of Shuaibu and handed same to him.

The document showed that Shuaibu was one of the signatories to the pension accounts, the only person that endorsed payment instructions sent to the banks for payments and, who, the banks confirmed payments from.

He was accused of signing and confirming several fraudulent mandates for fictitious contracts, fraudulent collective allowances, re-reimbursement to states, ghost pensioners and other forms of fraudulent activities.

The former pension chief, the document further showed, used the accounts of five people, Abdul Mohammed, Stanley Iwu, Aliyu Bello, Udusegbe Omoefe Eric, and Mrs. Phina Chidi, to siphon the money. These individuals were said to be beneficiaries of some of the fraudulent mandates; and they allegedly confessed to have remitted the proceeds to Shuaibu either directly or indirectly through some of his companies and associates.

Shuaibu’s driver also confessed to have received monies from these five persons severally and handed them to his boss.

One of the companies, Riba-Ile Petroleum Limited, one of the assets recently seized from Shuaibu by the EFCC, is an idle filling station, which bank account the N1.54 billion was launched.

The cheque book of this same account was the one found in Shuaibu’s driver’s house.

“Aliyu Bello and Abdul Mohammed confessed to have remitted the funds to him through Riba-Ile Petroleum Limited while Abdul Mohammed confessed to have remitted some through Smart Investments account on Shuaibu’s directives. Riba-Ile was discovered to have a turnover of over N1,540,000,000 in the account, with several cash deposits, while the filling station of Riba-Ile Petroleum Limited has not been operating,” the document read in part.

It further revealed that the account of the filling station, which cheque book was found in Shuaibu’s house was operated with a fictitious name, another person’s passport, a different person’s signature, but was operated by Shuaibu.

The account officer, Ibrahim Abubakar Sadeeq, in his statement to the EFCC, allegedly admitted that the account was operated by Shuaibu, who usually confirm to him all payments made in and drawn out of the account. He also confessed that he had on several occasions, collected money from Abdullahi (the driver); and on the directive of Shuaibu, using fictitious names, deposited the funds in the account of Riba-Ile Petroleum Limited.

The EFCC also discovered that the sum of N35 million was paid to Muha Motors through Riba-Ile’s bank account on April 3, 2009. Mohammed Muhamud, the owner of the firm, said in a statement to the EFCC that the amount was paid to him by Shuaibu as part payment for Brifina Hotel.

He told the EFCC that the money was meant for Chief Anthony Azewaputa for the hotel, which is located in Durumi, Abuja.

“Although the total sum of N399 million was said to be the value of Brifina Hotel, and the amount for which it was sold to Shuaibu, investigators traced N359 million as payments made to Azewaputa by Shuaibu through Muhamud in regards to the purchase of Brifina Hotel.”

Meanwhile, the EFCC has refuted reports in sections of the media that the Senate had directed the Nigeria Police to probe its former Chairman, Mrs. Farida Waziri and the incumbent, Mr. Ibrahim Lamorde for wrongdoing in the pension probe.

It said the reports also claimed that the commission had been directed by the Senate to hands off further investigation of pension matters.

In a statement yesterday, the commission, said “these assertions which made banner headlines in some national dailies were gross misrepresentation of what transpired at the public hearing of the Senate Joint Committee on Investigations into Pension Administration on Tuesday, April 17, 2012.”

The EFCC said: “At no time did the Senate committee or the Senate as a whole ordered the police to probe Lamorde and Waziri. Neither did it request the EFCC to hands off pension matters. Reports to the contrary, may have been promoted by interests to achieve certain nefarious ends.”

The statement, which was signed by Mr. Wilson Uwujaren, Acting Head of Media and Publicity of the EFCC, said Waziri and Lamorde appeared at the hearing in response to invitations by the committee. “For Lamorde, it was his second time. When he first appeared before the committee some weeks back he was confronted with a document that alleged that he collected estacode to travel to the United States (U.S.) for a biometric capturing exercise by the Pension Task Team, a claim which he vehemently denied.

“The EFCC chairman stated that he had never travelled abroad on any biometric capturing assignment neither did he receive any estacode from anybody for that purpose. Even the head of the Pension Task Team, Abdulrasheed Maina, who was present on the occasion, confirmed that Lamorde did not travel and did not collect a kobo in estacode,” Uwujaren said.

He said the puzzle over who collected the money was resolved on Tuesday, April 17, 2012 when the chairman of the panel, Senator Aloysius Etok announced that his committee, after careful investigation following Lamorde’s denial of any involvement in collecting estacode for any trip abroad, had found the person that used the name of the EFCC chair to collect estacode for the biometric capturing exercise.

He said Christian Madubuike, an official of the Police Pension Office was unveiled by the committee as the one who received the money that was supposedly meant for the EFCC chairman, according to the claims previously made in documents tendered to the Committee.

And in his open testimony, Madubuike confirmed that his account was used to collect the money listed against the name of Lamorde and that he collected the money and handed same to Mr. John Yusuf, an Assistant Director in the Police Pension Office who is also a member of the Maina-led Pension Task Team.

He said all EFCC investigators scheduled to go on pensioners’ verification exercises abroad, duly travelled, contrary to the reports that the commission’s employees collected and pocketed estacode for work not done.

 

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