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Alleged N400m fraud: Court grants former HoS, Oyo-Ita bail in sum of N100m

OyoIta

A former Head of Service of the Federation (HoSF),  Winifred Oyo-Ita, was on Monday granted bail to the sum of N100m.

Oyo-Ita and eight others were arraigned before a Federal High Court, Abuja, on charges of corruption and money laundering to the tune of over N400m.

Oyo-Ita was arraigned on an 18-count charge along with Garba Umar and Ubong Effiok as well as six companies linked to the defendants by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

They, however, pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Following their non-guilty plea, their counsel moved an oral application for bail.

The bail application was not opposed by the prosecuting agency.

Justice Taiwo Taiwo in his ruling on the bail application, admitted Oyo-Ita to bail of N100m and two sureties in like sum.

One of the two sureties, the judge ruled, must not be lower than a grade level 17 officer in the federal government employment and any of its agencies and must have a landed property worth the bail bond.

The second surety must show evidence of being gainfully employed and has the capability of paying N100m in the event that the defendant jumped bail.

The judge further ordered that she should deposit her international passport with the registrar of the court.

Justice Taiwo ordered that the defendants be released to their respective lawyers pending the perfection of their bail.

Justice Taiwo said that the decision was made in view of the coronavirus pandemic in the country, adding that lives should not be put to unnecessary danger.

Oyo-Ita was also asked to report to the prosecuting counsel at the EFCC’s Office for seven days, effective from March 24, until she perfects her bail conditions.

If unable to meet the bail conditions, she will be remanded at EFCC remand centre, the court held.

Justice Taiwo however admitted  Garba Umar and Ubong Effiok, the second and third defendants, to bail in the sum of N50m and two sureties each in like sum.

In count one, the ex-HoS was alleged to have used her position as Deputy Director in the Federal Ministry of Power in 2010 to divert the sum of N20m into her personal company, Frontline Ace Global Services Limited, contrary to section 14 of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act 2004.

She was also alleged to have between April and May, 2010 while as Deputy Director in the Federal Ministry of Power, converted to herself the sum of N26.4m through a company allegedly linked to her in counts two and three of the charge.

The charge in counts four and five further indicated that the defendant also converted the sum of N66.9m being public funds under the guise of purported estacodes for journeys not embarked on, contrary to section 15 of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act 2011.

In counts six and seven, the EFCC accused her of taking possession of another N45m along with her former Personal Assistant, Ubong Effiok, under the guise that the money was for conference fees, estacodes and ticket fees as well as Duty Tour Allowance (DTA) for journeys not made.

In counts eight and nine, the federal government accused Oyo-Ita along with Umar, a civil servant, of diverting the sum of N63m as part payment for a contract paid to Gooddeal Investment Limited, allegedly owned by Umar.

In count 18, Mrs Oyo-Ita was accused of failure to make full disclosure of her assets in the Assets Declaration Form of August 12, 2019, which she filled at the EFCC’s office, Abuja.

The court adjourned to May, 27 and 28 as well as June 2, 3 and 4, 2020, for commencement of trial.