N66m Pension Fraud: EFCC Arraigns ConsultantLatest News, News Friday, May 16th, 2014
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission EFCC has arraigned one Muhammad Ibrahim Sodangi, before Justice Darius Haet Khobo, of the Kaduna State High Court on a 13-count charge bordering on impersonation and stealing.
This is contained in a press statement by Head, Media & Publicity, EFCC, Wilson Uwujaren, who said Sodangi arraigned Thursday May 15, 2014 is alleged to have falsely pretended to be a retired officer/civil servant in the Kaduna State Civil Service and in such assumed character enlisted his name in the pension payroll of Kaduna State Civil Service where he defrauded the state of N66 million.
The Kaduna State Government had engaged Sodangi as a consultant to undertake the computerization of the Kaduna State Pension payroll and in that capacity committed the fraud.
Prosecuting counsel, Sylvanus Tahir, sought the leave of the court to prefer charge against the accused person. He was vehemently opposed by the defence counsel, Abbas Ibrahim who stated that the EFCC lacked the capacity and competence to prefer charge: “We submit that by the principle of separation of power enunciated in the doctrine of federalism duly recognized in section 2 of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the Federal Government and its coordinating states have distinct powers,” he said adding that, only the Attorney General of Kaduna State as its chief law officer has exclusive power to institute the case.
Tahir however urged the court to dismiss the defence counsel’s submission as “it is a ploy by the accused to delay his arraignment and trial.” He said the Commission was empowered by the EFCC Establishment Act, 2004 to fight economic and financial crimes.
Justice Khobo ruled that the EFCC Act adequately empowers the agency to prosecute and asked the accused to take his plea.
Sodangi pleaded not guilty to the 13 count charge when read to him.
Count 6 of the charge reads, “That you, Muhammad Ibrahim Sodangi, being a Consultant engaged by the Kaduna State Government to undertake the Computerization of the Kaduna State Pension payroll, sometime between August, 2012 to December, 2012 at Kaduna in the Kaduna Judicial Division of the High Court of Kaduna State did take dishonestly the sum of N9, 937, 163.34 (Nine Million, Nine Hundred and Thirty Seven Thousand, One Hundred and Sixty Three Naira and Thirty Four Kob o o nly), property of Kaduna State Pension Bureau without its consent by enlisting your name into the Pension Payroll and which said sum were paid into your Keystone Bank Plc Account No: 05029000014 Kaduna Main Branch and thereby committed an offence punishable under section 287 of the Penal Code Law of Kaduna State of Nigeria.
Thereafter, Tahir asked the court to fix a date for trial and remand the accused person in prison custody.
However, Abbas urged the court to grant his client bail stating that he had never defaulted on the administrative bail granted him by the EFCC.
Justice Khobo granted bail to the accused in the sum of one million naira with a reliable surety, who must be resident in Kaduna. The surety is to have a clear means of identification such as international passport, national identity card or drivers licence. The surety must possess a landed property verifiable by the court.
Justice Khobo adjourned the case to June 19, 2014 for trial.
Short URL: http://www.africanexaminer.com/?p=11496