EFCC Arraigns Ex-NSIF Chair, Olejeme, over N1bn Fraud

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Kingsley Nwezeh in Abuja

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), yesterday, arraigned a former Board Chairman of Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF), Dr. Ngozi Olejeme, before Justice Maryam Hassan Aliyu of the Federal Capital Territory High Court, Jabi, Abuja on a nine count charge, bordering on criminal conspiracy, abuse of once, diversion of public funds and money laundering.

She was alleged to have abused her position to obtain over N1,384,010,000 and $48,485,127.00.

A statement by EFCC said the offence contravened the provisions of Sections 8, 9 (1) (b) (1), punishable under the Corrupt Practice and Other Related Offence Act 2000 and Sections 17, (1) (2), 39 of EFCC (Establishment) Act, 2004 and punishable under the same section.

Count three of the charge read: “That you Dr. (Mrs.) Ngozi Olejeme being the former Board Chairman of Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF) sometimes between 2012 and 2015 in Abuja within the Jurisdiction of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, while being entrusted with dominion over money belonging to the Nigerian Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF) dishonestly received the sum of N350,000,000.00 paid into Able Jes Nigeria Limited GT Bank Account No. 323277283110, a company you have interest and used your position to confer unfair advantage upon the said company by receiving various payments from BDCs; the sum of N20,670,000.00 by one Hassan Kano, a BDC Operator on the 26th April, 2013; the sum of N236,350,000.00 paid by one Musa Adamu, a BDC Operator on the 21st of April, 2013; the sum of N20,670,000.00 paid by Mansur Abubakar, a BDC Operator on the 30th April, 2013; the sum of N16,160,000.00 paid by one Dauda Bullama on the 30th April, 2013; and the sum of N36,570,000.00 paid by one Sauki, BDC Operator on the 8th of May, 2013 thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 19 and punishable under the same Section of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offence Act, 2000.”

Count four read: “That you Dr. (Mrs.) Ngozi Olejeme being the former Board Chairman of Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF) sometimes between 2012 and 2015 in Abuja within the Jurisdiction of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, while being entrusted with dominion over money belonging to the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF) received benefit to do favour in the discharge of your official duties to (NSITF) by receiving the sum of N505,000,000.00 from Sir Adebayo Adebowale Aderibigbe which was sourced from the monies paid by (NSTTF) to Fountain Media Consults Ltd and Fountain Legal Services accounts as kickbacks and thereby committed an offence Contrary to Section 8(i) (b) (ii) and punishable under Section 8(D) (i) of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2000.”

The defendant pleaded ‘not guilty’ when the charges were read to her.

Upon her plea, counsel to the EFCC, Steve Odiase, asked for a trial date.

The defence counsel, Paul Erokoro, SAN informed the court of a pending bail application,which was filed on October 18, 2021 and urged the court to grant his client bail on self recognisance or in the alternative, in the most liberal terms.

He informed the court that his client was not a flight risk as she voluntarily returned to Nigeria, when she heard that the prosecution wanted to question her.

Erokoro further said the bail application was predicated on medical grounds as the defendant has been diabetic and hypertensive for 30 years, and has had four major surgeries in the U.S and South Africa.

Erokoro said the defendant’s recent medical report from Federal Medical Centre Jabi, statedthat she required close medical monitoring as her medical status could lead to an emergency.

The prosecuting counsel did not oppose the bail application, but urged the court to refuse the grant of bail on self recognisance as suggested by the defence counsel.

The Judge adjourned to Friday, October 22, 2021for ruling on the bail application and remanded the defendant in the custody of the EFCC.