By Soni Daniel
Abuja – The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on Wednesday, arraigned Justin Itemoagbo, Dayo Aliyu, Ojeifo Sylvanus and Dayang Jacob, before Justice Peter Kekemeke of the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, High Court, Apo, Abuja over N22.9 salary million fraud.
They are standing trial on a 14-count charge bordering on criminal breach of trust, conspiracy to obtain money by false pretence, abuse of office, forgery, advance fee fraud and impersonation.
The suspects, who works in the Pension section in the Office of the Head of Service of the Federation and the Federal Ministry of Works, allegedly connived, prepared and collected salaries of ghost workers they fraudulently inserted into the government payroll.
But the fraud was discovered and the culprits charged to court by the EFCC, which is prosecuting the case.
One of the counts reads: “That you Justin Itemoagbo, being the Principal Executive Officer, attached as a pension officer in the Human Resources Department of the Federal Ministry of Works, Dayo Usman Aliyu, being the Help-Desk Officer in charge of the Integrated Personnel and Payroll Information System in the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation, Ojeifo Robert Sylvanus, being a staff in the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation, Dayang Jacob, being a staff of Federal Ministry of Works attached as the Nominal Roll and Manpower Budget Officer and others now at large, sometime between January 3, 2014 and October 31, 2014 at Abuja within the jurisdiction of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, with intent to defraud, obtained the sum of N6,473,293.83 from the Federal Government of Nigeria as salaries in the names of: Pius Dunta, Mama Odoja, Igunnu Jonathan, Chinedum John Obinna, Iroso Aminu Bisi, Musa Engineer Daddy, Ini Akpan Effiong and Wey Vincent Olajide under the false pretence that they are staff of Federal Ministry of Works and Housing, and which pretence you knew to be false.”
They are alleged to have committed the offence between 2012 and 2014.
They pleaded “not guilty” to the charges.
In view of their pleas, prosecution counsel, T.N. Ndifon, urged the court to fix a date for the commencement of their trial, and asked that they be remanded in prison custody pending the determination of the case.
However, defence counsel, Tope Fasanmi, prayed the court to grant the defendants bail.
“The defendants have been on administrative bail since March and have always been present whenever the EFCC wanted them,” he argued.
The trial judge, thereafter, adjourned to December 2, 2016 for further hearing, and ordered that they be remanded in Kuje Prisons.