Oronsaye operated 66 illegal accounts, says EFCC
• Ex-head of service used fake pensioners for alleged fraud
• N600m paid for unexecuted contracts
A prosecution witness in the ongoing trial of former Head of Service of the Federation, Steve Oronsaye, yesterday alleged before the Federal High Court, Abuja, that he operated 66 illegal accounts.
The witness, Rouqayya Ibrahim, who claimed to be working with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) as an operative and investigator, told the court that based on replies to letters written from the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation, the commission discovered that the former Head of Service operated 66 illegal accounts. “We also discovered that there were modus operandi used by the pension office to syphon pension funds into their accounts. We discovered that about N14 billion was stolen from the pension funds of the Head of Service.”
Ibrahim said, “Sometime in 2010, EFCC and other anti-graft agencies were invited for pension verification in the civil service. During that time, my colleagues discovered a payment mandate for pensioners bearing 32 names, which was suspicious to them.
“Based on that, they requested further information on the mandate and the statement of account from the Office of the Head of Service. It was confirmed that some of the names on that list were fake.”
“Based on that, EFCC instituted a pension fraud team to properly investigate the activities of the Head of Service in terms of pension payment. I was drafted to be a part of the team along with 10 of my colleagues,” she stated.
The witness said that the team wrote letters to all the existing banks at the time to furnish them with the statements of all the accounts operated by the Head of Service for pensioners and also, payment mandates.
The witness said her team equally discovered that the modus operandi included payment made into accounts of different companies for illegal and non-existing contracts.
Others, she noted, were ghost pensioners whose names were inserted into pensions payroll and payment made to them even when they were not pensioners.
Another was the National Union of Pensioners and Association of Federal Civil Service Retirees, both of which, she told the court, received payments from the pension accounts, which according to her were illegal payments.
“For example, the National Union of Pensioners received over N2 billion from the pension account. The vast majority of the amount was withdrawn and handed over to one Mr. Shuaibu, who is at present standing trial in one of the courts.”
She told the court how her team discovered through an investigation, particularly in biometric contracts, that over N600 million was paid to several companies with the exception of one company, which actually did some semblance of the contract.
After several exchanges between the prosecuting and defence counsels, the judge adjourned the case till June 21 at 11:45 a.m. to begin the trial within trial. But shortly before the adjournment, Agabi notified the court of an application for the release of the first defendant’s international passport. Stressing that he was yet to see the application, the judge however, deferred hearing on the application to the next adjourned date.