By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
ABUJA – The 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 Justice Olasumbo Goodluck on a six-count charge bordering on criminal conspiracy, forgery and embezzlement of a grant that was handed to Nigeria by the Geneva-based agency.
Count one of the charge against them read: “That you, Abimbola Abioye Alamu, whilst being the program officer at the Department of Health Planning, Research and Statistics, Federal ministry of Health, Mrs Adebayo Wuraola Adejoke, whilst being monitoring and evaluation Officer at the Department of Health Planning, Research and Statistics, Federal Ministry of Health, Dr. Azeez Aderemi Najim, whilst being project coordinator, at the Department of Health Planning, Research and Statistics Federal Ministry of Health, Zubairu Kindi Ibrahim, whilst being Assistant project Accountant at the Department of Health Planning, Research and Statistics, Federal Ministry of Health, Faturoti Oladiti Jacob, whilst being training officer at the Department of Health Planning, Research and Statistics, Federal Ministry of Health, sometime between 2010 and 2014 in Abuja, within the jurisdiction of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, did conspire amongst ourselves to do an illegal act to wit: convert to yourselves the aggregate sum of N28,802,483.80 (Twenty Eight Million, Eight Hundred and Two Thousand, Four Hundred and Eighty Three Naira, Eighty Kobo) property of ‘The Global Fund’ for the purpose of the implementation of its health improvement program in Nigeria and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 97 of the Penal Code Act, Cap. 532 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria (Abuja) 1990”.
However, the defendants pleaded not guilty to the charge and were granted bail to the tune of N1million each with one surety each in like sum.
Aside 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 rhe 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 sum 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”.