Faced with Trial over Alleged N3bn Fraud, Oyo-Ita Retires


Kingsley Nwezeh, James Emejo, Olawale Ajimotokan and Udora Orizu in Abuja

Embattled Head of Service of the Federation (HoS), Mrs. Winifred Oyo-Ita, who is being investigated for alleged corrupt practices and might soon be put on trial, has sent in her notice of retirement, according to very authoritative presidential sources.

Although presidential spokesman, Malam Shehu Garba, and the Director of Press in the HoS, Ms. Olawunmi Ogunmosunle, said yesterday that they were not aware of the development, THISDAY gathered that she had tendered her notice of retirement to the Chief of Staff to the President, Mallam Abba Kyari.

“I think Garba and the other fellow don’t know what is going on. In any case, they said they were unaware of the development and not that she has not retired,” a source in the know told THISDAY last night.
It was gathered that President Muhammadu Buhari was already set to approve her suspension to enable the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to file charges against her for alleged misconduct and corruption, having established a prima facie case against her.

She was last week interrogated by the EFCC over an alleged N3 billion traced to her account, which she could not convincingly explain how the money hit her bank account and the accounts of companies linked to her aides and cronies.

Another source told THISDAY that Kyari had already informed Buhari about her notice of retirement.
“Mrs. Oyo-Ita has notified the president of her intention to retire. She tendered her letter yesterday (Monday). The Chief of Staff has already notified the president,” the source said.
The anti-graft agency had gone after Oyo-Ita’s allies, contractors and cronies involved in alleged N3billion duty tour allowances falsification and bribery.

Some of the contractors identified were arrested and interrogated while others were still undergoing interrogation.
The agency had also swooped on some of the contractors handling some projects in different ministries and agencies, who had allegedly given her large sums of money as bribe.
Following the discoveries, EFCC had frozen her bank accounts and the accounts of some of the contractors and cronies where the N3 billion was domiciled.

The agency was working towards applying for the interim forfeiture of the cash found in her account and the others since she could not offer convincing explanation on the source of the funds.
Her investigation was called off when she took ill during interrogation. She has since been admitted to a private hospital in Abuja.
It was gathered that the anti-graft agency has already established a prima facie case against her and has concluded plans to file charges against her.

When contacted, the EFCC spokesman, Mr. Tony Orilade, promised to provide an update on the investigation.
But reacting to THISDAY enquiry, Ogunmosunle, refuted the information that Oyo-Ita had sent in her notice of retirement.
In a phone call conversation with THISDAY yesterday, she denied any knowledge of the resignation letter.
According to her, “I don’t know where the media got their reports from, but for us here at Head of Service, no resignation letter was sent to the president.”

Oyo-Ita has spent 23 years in the Federal Civil Service, having joined in 1997. She was appointed as the HoSF in acting capacity in October 2015 and later confirmed in January 2016 by Buhari.

Though she had a documented work experience spanning over 30 years, including being the first female indigenous Managing Director/Chief Executive, Cross River Estates Limited, between 1993 and 1995, she later transferred her service to the Federal Civil Service, where she was appointed to the rank of Assistant Director in July, 1997.

She rose to the position of a Director, Finance and Accounts in January 2009 in the Office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation.
She was appointed permanent secretary on March 16, 2013 and posted to the Federal Ministry of Special Duties and Inter-Governmental Affairs as the pioneer permanent secretary of the re-established ministry.

She was redeployed to the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology in April 2014.
Until her appointment as HoS, she was the permanent secretary, Ministry of Science and Technology. She also served as permanent secretary in the Ministry of Special Duties and Intergovernmental Affairs.
She is a fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN).