Home Anti Corruption EFCC Arraigns 5 Over 500m Pension Fund in Sokoto

EFCC Arraigns 5 Over 500m Pension Fund in Sokoto

by Isiyaku Ahmed
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Musa Na Allah Sokoto

The Sokoto High Court has arraigned five officials of Sokoto State Primary Schools Staff Pension Board for alleged diversion of over N500 million teachers’ pension funds.

The money meant to pay pension and gratuities of retired primary school teachers in the state were said to be diverted by the suspected officials of the board.

The suspected officials arraign before the court include Abubakar Aliyu, Hassana Moyi, Haliru Ahmad, Kabiru Ahmad and Dahiru Muhammad Isa who were Secretary, Director of Finance and Supply, deputy Director of Finance and Supply, Accountant and Cashier of the board respectively.

The Presiding Judge, Justice Muhammad Muhammad however granted the suspects bail in the sum of N55 million each with one surety in like sum who must be a resident of Sokoto and owned a landed property within the state.

Counsel to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Sa’ad Hannafi has however objected to the bail application on ground that, some defendants in the case were flight risk.

“They told EFCC that they are travelling out of the country,” he said

“The grant of bail is at the discretion of the honourable court. However, such discretion must be exercised judicially and judiciously, where the defendants have placed substantial materials for the consideration of the court.

“There is nothing before the court to enable it exercise its discretion in their favour. The defendants are standing trial for a very serious offences bordering on huge amount of money, which upon conviction, their conviction will attract severe punishment.

“And where that is the position, they should not be granted bail,” he argued

He cited a case of Ishaya Bamaiyi versus the state 2001 and one other case to buttress his argument.

” It is our submission to this court that, the issue of administrative bail relied upon by the counsel to the defendants it is insignificant because the bail had elapsed with their arraignment before the court.

“They are now property of the court. Therefore, the court should be wary of releasing them,” he added

He further argued that, “the said defendants had jumped the administrative bail granted to them during investigation.

He complained that, there was high risk of interfering with the prosecution witnesses as some of them were at the mercy of the defendants.

The counsel to the accused, A Y Abubakar while defending his bail application urged the court to grant his application as prayed, saying that, the defendants ” are responsible men and woman as well as responsible civil servants of the state.

He said they had been enjoying their administrative bail granted to them by the EFCC.

“I have the undertaking of my clients, that none of the conditions stipulated under sec 161 (a-f) will be breached,” he stated.

Stallion times reports that, the defendants were facing 28 counts -charges bordering on forgery, criminal breach of trust and misappropriation which were contrary to sections 92 (2), 311 of the Penal Code law CAP 89, Laws of Northern Nigeria and Sections 351, 353, 348 of the Sokoto Penal Code law 2019.

The Zonal Head of EFCC, Usman Bawa Kaltungo in an interview with journalists alleged that, the staffers used forged vouchers to withdrew and shared monies meant for payment of pension and gratuities of retired primary school teachers in Sokoto state.

According to him, the money was withdrawn in trenches.

Kaltungo who said they acted on a petition brought to them by one of the affected pensioners, said between January,17, 2017 and March, 2020, the Director of Finance withdrew the sum of N83.2 million from their account with Polaris bank.

“During the same period, Haliru and Kabiru withdrew 203,217,770.71 and 266,567,053 respectively from the same account in the name of pensioners,” he said

The case was adjourned to July, 26 for the commencement of hearing.

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