By Segun Awofadeji in Bauchi
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has arraigned the Provost, Federal College of Horticulture, Dadinkowa, Gombe State, Prof. Fatima B. J. Sawa, and two others before a Federal High Court, sitting in the state for alleged N52 million fraud.
Disclosing this in a statement in Bauchi Wednesday, the Public Relations Officer (PRO) of the Gombe Zonal Office of the EFCC, Bello Bajoga, said the trio were arraigned before Justice N. I. Afolabi on a four-count charge bordering on conspiracy, concealment of illicit origin of funds and fraud.
Bajoga said the defendants, Prof. Sawa, Umar Modibbo and Abdurrashid Abubabakar, allegedly used their capacities as Provost, expenditure officer, and Bursar respectively to conspire among themselves and transferred the sum of N52,444,097.06 from the institution’s account domiciled in one of the new generation banks by using GIFMIS payment platform without justification.
“However, investigations carried out by the commission revealed that the amount in question was transferred to one company called Freeman ICT Hub on one day instalment and the company does not deserve to receive that payment as no service was rendered by the company to the institution.
“Count three of the charge read: ‘That you Fatima B. J. Sawa, Umar Modibbo and Abdurrasheed Abubakar, sometime in December 2017 at Gombe, Gombe State within the jurisdiction of this honourable court in your capacities as provost, expenditure officer and bursar respectively of the Federal College of Horticulture, Dadinkowa with intent to defraud, did conspire amongst yourselves to commit an offence, to wit; Attempt to obtain monies, the sum of N52, 444, 097.06 ( Fifty Two Million Four Hundred and Forty Four Thousand Ninety Seven Naira Six Kobo) under false Pretence thereby committing an offence contrary to and punishable under Section 8 (a) and Section 1 (3) of the Advance Fee Fraud and other Fraud Related Offences Act 2006 respectively,” he stated.
He said that when the case was mentioned in the court, the prosecution counsel, Ndeh Godspower, applied to the court that the charge be read to the defendants for the purpose of taking their plea which was granted by the court.
According to the anti-graft agency’s spokesman, all the defendants pleaded not guilty to all the charges read against them and “in view of that, the prosecution counsel applied for a date of trial and requested that the defendants be remanded in prison custody, but all the defence counsel applied for bail”.
Bajoga said that while adjourning the case to 17th January, 2019 for definite hearing, Justice Afolabi granted all the defendants bail in the sum of N60 million and two sureties each in like sum who reside in Gombe with C of O and one of the sureties must be a blood relation of the defendant(s).