By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
ABUJA— Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, has docked five persons before an Abuja High Court sitting at Maitama, following their alleged complicity in the fraudulent diversion of about $4 million of the Global Fund to fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria in Nigeria.
The defendants, Abimbola Abioye, Wuraola Adebayo, Zubairu Ibrahim, Faturiti Jacob and Azeez Aderemi, were arraigned before Justice Olasumbo Goodluck on a six-count charge bordering on criminal conspiracy, forgery and embezzlement of a grant handed to Nigeria by a Geneva-based agency.
However, the defendants pleaded not guilty to the charge and were granted bail to the tune of N1 million each with each surety in like sum.
Aside from seizing their international passports, the court stressed that the sureties must not be below grade level 12 and must be resident in Abuja.
The case was adjourned till October 11 for trial.
It will be recalled that The Global Fund had in March 2016 suspended payments to Nigeria’s AIDS agency over the diversion of about $3.8 million allegedly stolen by workers and consultants.
The grant was also to ensure the establishment of a National Health Information System, a service that could have aided delivery of quality health care services in Nigeria.
The Global Fund had in a petition it sent to EFCC, alleged that “during a recent routine check by the Office of the Inspector General, Global Fund, it was discovered that from 2010 to 2014, the suspects who are employees of Department of Planning, Research and Statistics, DPRS, Federal Ministry of Health conspired among themselves to receive and systematically embezzle the amount through the use of fictitious invoices, receipts of hotel stays, air flight tickets and other instruments to access and divert the fund for their own personal gains.”