By SONI DANIEL
No fewer than 17 suspects have been detained by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, in connection with the stealing of N1.7 billion meant for the payment of primary school retirees in Oyo State.
The commission said in Abuja, yesterday, that the members of the syndicate were picked up in separate operations by its operatives.
Among the key suspects picked up were: Muili Hakeem Aderemi, former Executive Secretary, Oyo State Local Government Pension Board and Iyabo Giwa, former Treasurer, Oyo State Local Government Pension Board.
Others were: Adeshina Jimoh Ayoade, former cashier, Oyo State Local Government Pension Board; Oguntayo Banji, former Internal Auditor, Oyo State Local Government Pension Board and Adebiyi Olasunbo Musendiq, former Admin Officer, Oyo State Local Government Pension Board.
Also in EFCC custody are: Muili Adedamola; Salewa Adedeji; Kareem Rasheed; Johnson Bosede; Adeduntan Johnson; Olomide Olaide; Oyebamiji Akinlolu; Adewale Kehinde; Saka M. Ikeola; Oluokun Funmilayo; Oyetunji Taiwo and Olujimi Philip Adebayo.
According to a statement by the commission signed by its Spokesman, Wilson Uwujaren, all the pension offices in the 33 LGAs in Oyo state were affected by the scam.
Investigation showed that Oyo Pensions Board got a total of N4, 140,020,501.72 from the federal and state governments between 2010 and 2011, of which the syndicate made away with N1, 711,894,667.05.
The suspects are said to have used the illicit proceeds to acquire property and businesses in different parts of the country, which the EFCC has also seized.
In the meantime, the commission has also arrested one Tope Ajayi over his alleged involvement in digital satellite broadcast scam.
Ajayi was picked up by operatives of EFCC from his apartment located at 26 Link Bawo Road in Hausawa area of Kano, following intelligence report.
The agents of the commission reportedly recovered no fewer than 100 decoders and other computer-related gadgets from his server room during a search on his apartment.
Ajayi, who claimed to have worked with Skye Bank Plc, is said to be a major digital satellite broadcast scammer, and has a server that links up with others in China and other parts of the world.
The suspect is also alleged to be engaged in illegal importation, selling and distribution of pirated device popularly known as Dungle, which enables subscribers to have free access to Multichoice satellite signals across West and Central Africa.
According to Mr Frikkie Jonker, Senior Anti-Piracy Manager, Multichoice, Ajayi’s server is considered very strong, as it controls its counterpart server in China and distributes satellite signals to a host of West African and Central African countries, including Senegal, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya Uganda and Benin Republic .
It was also revealed that the suspect had been extracting control words from Multichoice cards in Nigeria and sending same to a server in China, which is connected to an ISP server placed somewhere in Europe or America.
Jonker, who expressed his gratitude to the EFCC for the arrest, described the scam as one of the biggest in recent time.