the Police pension scam suspects arraigned at the FCT High Court, Gudu, Abuja today, 29th March, 2012.
1. Esai Dangabar
2. Atiku Abubakar Kigo,
3. Ahmed Inuwa Wada
4. John Yakubu Yusufu
5. Mrs Veronica Ulonma Onyegbula
6. Sani Habila Zira.
Justice Mohammed Talba of High Court of the Federal Capital Territory , sitting in Gudu, Abuja , on March 29, 2012, sent six suspects who were arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, for allegedly defrauding police pensioners to the tune of N32.8 Billion naira (Thirty Two billion, Eight Hundred Million Naira) to prison custody.
The six suspects who were arraigned on a 16 criminal charges bordering on conspiracy and criminal breach of trust were: Esai Dangabar, Atiku Abubakar Kigo, Ahmed Inuwa Wada, John Yakubu Yusufu, Mrs. Veronica Ulonma Onyegbula and Sani Habila Zira. Kigo was the director of the Police Pension Office, before he was made Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Niger Delta.
There was however a mild drama when the accused were docked and their Counsels announced appearances before the charges were read. Barrister J.N Egwuonwu had announced appearance for all the six accused persons when Adegboyega Awomolo, SAN, stood up and told the court that Egwuonwu’s appearance was misnomer as two Senior Advocates were in the court to represent some of the accused persons. Another SAN who was in court for the case was Dr. Awa Kalu.
It was at this point that the Judge asked the accused persons one after the other, who their counsel was. Dangabar, the first accused person told the court that the two SANs were his counsels, 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.
The six accused persons pleaded not guilty to all the charges, prompting prosecution counsel, Rotimi Jacobs to ask the court for an adjournment to enable the counsels argue the bail application. But Awomolo interjected and said the application for bail has been filed and served. “Your Lordship, having regards to the facts that the suspects are still presumed innocent until pronounced guilty. I will urge the accused to be detained in EFCC custody from where they came to the court this morning. I urge my Lordship to adjourn till tomorrow so that the bail application can be argued”.
But Jacobs said that while not opposed to the bail application, tomorrow (March 30, 2012) was not convenient for the argument of the bail application.
While adjourning the case till Tuesday April 3, 2012, for argument on the bail application and Monday May 28 and June 4 for commencement of trial, the judge ordered that all the accused persons be remanded in prison custody.
Count one of the 16 count charge reads that: “That you ESAI ABUBAKAR, AHMED INUWA WADA, JOHN YAKUBU YUSUFU, ATIKU ABUBAKR KIGO, MRS VERONICA ULONMA ONYEGBULA and SANI HABILA ZIRA between January 2009 and June 2011 at Abuja Division of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory agreed to do an illegal act, to wit: criminal breach of trust by public officers in respect of the sum of N14,518,567,724.36 (Fourteen Billion, Five Hundred and Eighteen Million, Five Hundred and Sixty Seven Thousand, Seven Hundred and Twenty Four Naira and Thirty Six Kobo) and that the same act was done in pursuance of the agreement among you and you thereby committed an offence punishable under section 97 of the Penal Code Cap. 532, Laws of the Federal Capital Territory , Abuja , Nigeria 2007”.
Count three reads: “That you ESAI DANGABAR, JOHN YAKUBU YUSUFU, MRS. VERONICA ULONMA ONYEGBULA and SANI HABILA ZIRA between January and December 2009 at Abuja in the Abuja Division of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, being public officers in the service of the government of the Federation and in such capacity entrusted with certain property, to wit: the sum of N8,920,371,822.24 (Eight Billion, Nine Hundred and Twenty Million, Three Hundred and Seventy One Thousand, Eight Hundred and Twenty Two Naira and Twenty Four Kobo) which sum formed part of Nigeria Police Pension funds in the account domiciled at the First Bank of Nigeria Plc, committed criminal breach of trust in respect of the said property, and you thereby committed an offence punishable under section 315 of the Penal Code Act, Cap. 532, Laws of the Federal Capital Territory , Abuja , Nigeria 2007”.
Count four reads “That you ATIKU ABUBAKAR KIGO, JOHN YAKUBU YUSUFU, MRS. VERONICA ULOMA ONYEGBULA and SANI HABILA ZIRA between January 2010 and February 2011 at Abuja in the Abuja Division of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, being public officers in the service of the Government of the Federal Government and in such capacity entrusted with certain property, to wit: the sum of N4, 739,894.896.06 ( Four Billion, Seven Hundred and Thirty Nine Million, Eight Hundred and Ninety Four Thousand, Eight Hundred and Ninety Six Naira and Six Kobo) which sum formed part of the Nigerian Police Pension funds in the account domiciled at the First Bank of Nigeria Plc, committed criminal breach of trust in respect of the said property, and you thereby committed an offence punishable under section 315 of the Penal Code Act. Cap. 532, Laws of the Federal Capital Territory , Abuja , Nigeria 2007.
Media & Publicity Unit
29th March, 2012.