By Ikechukwu Nnochiri

ABUJA — The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, has exposed before a Federal High Court in Abuja, how five civil servants in the Office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation, OHCSF, used seven different bureau de-change operators, to steal over N38 billion from pension funds.

The anti-graft agency further gave a graphic account of how it was able to nail the former Director of the Pensions Department in OHCSF, Dr Sani Teidi Shuaibu, to the fraud, even as it has tendered an evidence before the high court, depicting how the erstwhile pension boss used proceeds of the illicit deal to acquired an Abuja hotel for N359.25 million.

EFCC said during the investigation process, one Mohammed Muhamud, the owner of Muha Motors, who it said volunteered statements on February 16, 2011 and May 31, 2011, confessed that Dr Shuaibu at various times, used his bank accounts  to transfer huge sums of money to another account operated by one Chief Anthony Azewaputa, who EFCC said facilitated the purchase of “Brifina Hotel”, for the accused person.

It also named a manager of the United Bank for Africa, Mr Aliyu Salami, as an accomplice in the crime, alleging that he helped the accused person to divert stolen pension funds through the account of one of his customer’s company, S&S Concern Nig. Ltd, a company it said belongs to one Salami Mamman Jimoh, with account No. 00600030001127.

Civil Servants on the queue for verification exercise.

According to EFCC, “the fixed deposit was later liquidated and the sum of N100 million remitted to Dr Sani Shaibu through Muha Motors account.

“So far, investigation was able to trace money from Dr Shaibu Sani Teidi to Mohammed Muhamud accounts, in which Mahumud stated that the monies were paid to Chief Anthony Azeweputa through A. E. Bright Future Motors Ltd accounts for the purchase of Brifina Hotel. He also stated that the agreement for the sale of Brifina Hotel to Shaibu was drafted and signed by Barr. Anthony Prince Ameh who signed on Shaibu’s behalf and was managing the hotel for Shaibu as well.

“This has been confirmed from Barr Anthony P. Ameh who came to the commission and volunteered his statement under caution from 29/3/2011 to 7/6/2011.”

The prosecuting agency said from its analysis, N165 million was paid to Chief Anthony from Muha Motos account with Afribank account 1490529977612 on 8th April 2009 through A.E Bright Motors Nig Ltd account with Spring Bank Plc, saying another payment of N109.25million, was also paid on the same day from the Afri Bank account to an account with Bank PHB Plc.

Meanwhile, EFCC gave names of the seven bureau de-change operators that were used to siphon pension funds, their Account No, amount and dates they made confessional statements as, Aliyu Abubakar Kiruwa, 04211701700343, N2,750, 000.00, 23/2/2011, Musa Mohammed, 127001012704, N1,880,000.00, 17/02/2011, Bello Alhaji Minister, 1830001010401, N3, 800, 000.00, 23/2/2011, Hussaini Muhammad, 3501701700172, N17, 100, 00.00, 17/02/2011.

Others are El-Mustafa Yahya, 0291701200120, N2, 200, 00.00, Alaneme Chukwuemeka Sylvester, 0661701700173, N3, 850, 00.00, Sidi Gambo Umar, 1261701200014, N2, 800, 00.00, 19/5/2011.

EFCC told the high court that it was former bank manager with Oceanic Bank Plc, Mr Udusegbe Omoefe Eric, who it said conspired with the pension boss and a former Deputy Director, Pensions Finance and Account at the Office of the Head of Service, who it said was a signatory to pension accounts, Mrs Phina Ukamaka Chidi, to launder the sum of One billion, Nine hundred and Eighty Eight million, Three Hundred and Twelve Thousand Naira only, through fictitious companies and ghost pensioners, that brought the idea of using Bureau de-Change operators with a view to making it difficult for the fraud to be traced.

“Udusegbe Omoefe Eric confessed to have advised Dr Shaibu and Mrs Chidi to substitute the fictitious companies with some Bureau de-Change companies and remit payments from the OHCSF Pension Account to the Bureau de-Change companies’ account, who will give them dollars in exchange instead of the previous arrangement which was cumbersome.”

The other civil servant equally fingered in the fraud were an ex-Assistant Director in-charge of variation, Mr Mohammed Katun Ahmed, the cash officer of pensions accounts, Mr Garba Abdullahi Tahir and the Head Final Accounts at the OHCSF, Mr. Emmanuel Aderemi Olanipekun.

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