By Ise-Oluwa Ige
A Federal high court sitting in Abuja yesterday issued an order remanding the Executive Secretary of the National Commission for Mass Literacy Adult and Non formal Education, Dr Dayo Olagunju in Kuje prisons.
Nine directors of the commission charged with Dr Olagunju for alleged complicity were also sent to prison.
That was after the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) arraigned them yesterday for conspiring with one another to perpetrate fraud involving N278million in the commission.
The alleged crime was allegedly committed between November and December 2008.
The presiding high court judge, Justice Anwuli Chikere who remanded them in prison custody ordered that they should remain there till July 27, this year when all written addresses on their bail application would be adopted to enable her take a position on it.
The nine directors of the commission arraigned yesterday with the commissionâ€™s boss (Dr Olagunju) for complicity include Mr Joshua Alao, Mrs Alice Abang, Jibrin Waguna, Mallam Sheu Abdullahi and Dr Victoria-King Nwachukwu.
Others are Mr Adamu Khalid, Mr Moses Oseni, Mr Francis Awelewa and Mr Bashir Suleiman
Many of their relations who had thronged the court premises yesterday to witness the arraignment could not hold back their tears after the trial judge ordered their remand in prison.
One of them whose husband is one of the directors facing trial openly defended her familyâ€™s bread winner yesterday saying he was not a thief.
But she refused to disclose not only her name but also her husbandâ€™s name.
She said she could vouch for her husband, adding that if he had taken any money belonging to the government,Â she would have known.
According to a 17-count charge preferred against the accused persons yesterday, the Executive Secretary of the National Commission for Mass Literacy, Dr Dayo Olagunju was accused to have conspired with nine directors under him to unlawfully award contracts to the tune of N255million knowing fully well that he has no powers to award contracts above N20million.
But the charge did not explain whether the contracts were awarded in batches, each exceeding his approval limit or whether the contract was approved once.
The charge however made it clear that Dr Olagunju allegedly awarded the contract in abuse of his office and contrary to the provisions of the Procurement Act 2004 simply because he allegedly held private interest in them.
The Deputy Director of Finance and Accounts of the same commission, one Sheu Abdullahi, who himself is on trial was separately accused to have fraudulently withdrawn the sum of N20million belonging to the commission and diverted same to his private pocket.
That was besides his alleged diversion of another N2.6million belonging to the commission which he allegedly shared among seven members of the commissionâ€™s staff.
The charge also accused Abdullahi to have collected various sums of monies from all the companies that benefitted from most of the contracts awarded by the commission within the same time.
For instance, he was said to have corruptly collected N700,000 from Focus Integrated Services Limited; N100,000 from Danab Global Services Limited and N850,000 from Messrs Focus Integrated Services Limited and Danab Global Services Limited as his share from the contracts awarded to the respective companies.
Oseni Moses who is the Secretary, Procurement, Planning Committee of the National Literacy Commission and also on trial was said to have issued eight certificates to Messrs Alzoc Company Nigeria Limited; Matrix IT Solutions Limited; Yaliam Press Limited; Camstra Nigeria Limited; Danab Global Services Limited; Focus Integrated Services Limited purporting that the contracts awarded them were executed when the contrary is the case.
The Principal Accountant of the Commission, Francis Awelewa, also on trialÂ was separately accused of paying monies belonging to the Literacy Commission into her personal saving account which he operates with Wema Bank located in Garki, Abuja contrary to the provisions of section 198 of the Criminal Code
Another accused person who is a director in the commission,. Bashir Tanko Suleiman was accused to have falsely endorsed delivery notes to some companies including Matrix IT Solutions, Focus Integrated Services Limited among others which were contracted to supply some items to the commission.
Some of the said items include 948 zig-zag sewing machines. Knitting machines, 1,500 conference seats, 50LG two horse power split air conditioners, 100 Binatone standing fan with iron blade.
But as the court registrar read the charge to them yesterday, they all took turns to enter a plea of not guilty to each of the offences.
The prosecution consequently asked the court for a short adjournment to prove its case against the accused persons.
That was after it intimated the court that investigation was still on-going in the matter.
But the defenceÂ yesterday asked for bail for all the accused persons.
The defence told the court it had filed three bail applications in the matter.
It said two were filed Thursday while the third was filed Friday.
It added that in view of the fact that the bail applications were essentially the same, it would move only one, which outcome would be applicable to all the accused persons in the matter.
He consequently withdrew all bail applications pending before the court except the one it agreed to move.
The EFCC counsel said he has not filed any counter affidavit but that he would want to respond on points of law.
But the trial judge said that she is not going to take the address partly written and partly oral.
The EFCC consequently said that it would file its response on points of law.
The matter has been adjourned till July 27 for hearing of the bail application.