• Sunday, June 23, 2024
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Alleged fund diversion: Court orders arrest of three REA Staff over-non appearance

I can’t sit on appeal decided by other court, says Ondo judge

A Federal High Court sitting  in Abuja on Thursday ordered the arrest of three staff of the Rural Electrification Agency (REA) for failing to appear at their arraignments over multiple charges of alleged frauds and diversions of public funds.

The staff,  Emmanuel Pada Titus, Henrietta Onormen Okojie,  and Umar Musa Karaye  respectively had earlier been granted administrative bails  by the Independent and Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), over alleged fraud, criminal conspiracy and diversion of public funds amounting to the sum of N1.835 billion.

In the charges presented by Osuoben Ekoi Akpanimisingha, Assistant  Chief Legal Officer of the ICPC  Titus is being arraigned for the alleged diversion of the  the sum of 261 million, while Okojie is being arraigned for the diversion of the sum of N342m, and Karaye  is being arraigned for the diversion of one N165 million.

Okojie had sought the permission of the court to have the trio arrested, for deliberately failing to appear, despite having full details of their arraignments by the Commission.

Quoting section 114 and section 184 of the Criminal and Justice Act respectively, the complainant informed that he had personally served the defendants the notices of arraignment  on May 29th, 2024, with the details of appearances clearly stated, but the defendants on their own notices  had failed to appear for their arraignments.

Recall that investigations by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC and the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission, ICPC, as well as the Accounts Committee of thr House of  Representatives had showed outflows of payments amounting to N1.835 billion

The alleged disbursements were paid in tranches into 6 personal accounts of some senior officials of the agency.

Charge sheets co-signed by Henry  Empire, Director Legal Services and  Osuoben Ekoi Akponimisinghi, Assistant  Legal Officer of the ICPC it stated that a total of N1.835 billion were paid by Abubakar Abdullahi Sambo in tranches to the defendants.

The court had adjourned the re- arraignment of Emmanuel Pada Titus, Henrietta Onormen Okojie,  and Umar Musa Karaye to June 13th 2024 and that of Usman Ahmed Kwakwa to June 14th 2024 respectively.

It would also be recalled that in March 2024, President Bola  Tinubu suspended Ahmad Salihijo Ahmad, managing director and chief executive of the Rural Electrification Agency (REA) indefinitely. The suspension followed an investigation into the financial activities of the Rural Electrification Agency and diversion of N1.2billion into personal accounts.

Tinubu also approved the indefinite suspension of Olaniyi Netufo, executive director, corporate services, Barka Sajou, executive director, technical services and Sa’adatu Balgore, executive director, rural electrification fund (REF).