BY IKECHUKWU NNOCHIRI
ABUJA—The Abuja Division of the Federal High Court, yesterday, ordered that the former Director of Pension Accounts in the Office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation, OHCSF, Dr Sani Teidi Shaibu, remained in prison custody.
Justice Adeniyi Ademola gave the order after he indefinitely suspended ruling on the bail application filed before him by the erstwhile pension boss, who had already spent 24 days at Kuje maximum prison.
Also directed to remain in prison custody was a former manager with the defunct Oceanic Bank Plc, Mr Udusegbe Omoefe Eric.
It will be recalled that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, had on June 7 arraigned the duo over allegation that they conspired and diverted over N5 billion meant for pensioners.
They are answering to a 22-count criminal charge bordering on conspiracy, fraud, breach of public trust and obtaining money by false pretense.
Though the court had on June 18, adjourned ruling on their consolidated bail application till yesterday, the 1st accused person, who was said to have acted without the consent of his lawyer, Chief S.I Ameh, SAN, forwarded a petition to the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Ibrahim Auta, alleging bias against the trial judge.
Sequel to the petition which accused Justice Ademola of deliberately thwarting efforts to secure the release of the accused persons from prison custody, the CJ, queried him, and directed that he should promptly respond to the allegation leveled against him in the petition.
Consequently, at the resumed sitting yesterday, Justice Ademola adjourned the case indefinitely to enable him respond to the petition.
He also ordered that the accused persons be returned to the prison.
EFCC had maintained that the accused persons used nine companies to siphon pension funds.
The anti-graft agency gave names of the companies it accused of complicity in the pension scam as Gozinda Enterprises, Bashinta Nigeria Ltd, Haleath Enterprises, Uthatak Nigeria Ltd, Krasiva Nig Ltd, Badawulu Ventures Limited, Ebunu Attah Investment, Muha Millennium Motors Limited, Ribaile Petroleum Ltd.
EFCC had earlier revealed before the court how the accused persons used seven bureau de change operators and stole pension funds, adding that during the investigation, one Mohammed Muhamud, owner of Muha Motors, who it said volunteered statements on 16/2/2011 and 31/5/2011, confessed that Dr Shaibu, 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 1staccused person.
The agency told the court that the offence which it said ran contrary to sections 1(1) (a), 7(1) (b) (i), 8(a) of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Related Offences Act, 2006 and punishable under sections 1(3), 7(2) (b) (i) of the same Act, was committed between 2009 and 15 March 2010.
More so, EFCC, alleged that the remanded pension boss, siphoned money from the pensions department and purchased plot B59 Dawaki Extension Layout in Abuja from one Stanley Obioma Iwu, with the intent to disguise the ownership of the proceeds of the illegal transaction, as well as, looted monies and purchased 100 units of Lifetime 32-LCD Television, 100 units of Samsung Refrigerators, 70 units of Samsung 1.5 HP Air-Conditioners, 30 units of Samsung Split unit 1.5 HP Air Conditioners, 15 units of 3HP Package unit Air-Conditioners from Iwu, Chikwado Ezenwoye and Essential Gadgets Ventures.