Symbol of justice
By Tobi Soniyi
A Permanent Secretary in the Federal Civil Service, Mr. Atiku Kigo, and a Director, Chief Esai Dangabar, were Thursday remanded in prison by an Abuja High Court for allegedly diverting N32.8billion Police Pension fund into their private bank accounts.
The Permanent Secretary and the Director were put on trial by the Federal Government with four other top government officials in connection with fraud accusation.
The other suspects are Mr. Ahmed Inuwa Wada, John Yakuku Yusufu, Mrs. Veronica Ulonma Onyegbula and Mr. Habila Zira
They were arraigned before Justice Abubakar Talba of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court on a 16-count charge of conspiracy, criminal breach of trust and diversion of public fund amounting to N32.8 billion.
The alleged offences are contrary to sections 97, 315 Penal Code Act Laws of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja Nigeria, 2007.
The breakdown of the charges showed that the accused persons, being public officers in the service of the government of the federation between January 2009 and June 2011 in Abuja, diverted the sum of N14,518,567,724 being part of police pension from an account domiciled at First Bank Plc.
Between January and December 2009 in Abuja, the accused persons were also alleged to have breached the public trust with N8,920,371,822 police pension fund kept at First Bank Plc.
The charge sheet also indicated that between January 2010 and February 2011 also in Abuja, they diverted another sum of N4,739,894,896 police fund, while between February and June 2011, a N858,301,006 was also diverted from the same source.
They were also accused of stealing N656,559,289 in January 2011, while in March 2009 another N462,963,012 was allegedly diverted from the same fund, while working at the police pension office, among others.
However, all the accused persons pleaded not guilty to the charges filed on behalf of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) by Mr. Rotimi Jacobs.
An oral application by Chief Adegboyega Awomolo, SAN counsel to the 1st Accused Person for the suspects to be released on bail was turned down by the court.
Justice Talba directed that the bail application must be in writing with cogent reasons on why they should go on bail.
Awomolo then applied that the accused persons be remanded in the EFCC custody pending the time of their bail but was also turned down by the court on the ground that EFCC's custody was not a holding place for an accused person already brought to court.
Justice Talba ordered that they should be remanded in prison custody till April 3 when motion for their bail would be moved. The substantive case was adjourned till April 25 for hearing.