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Court remands two REA staff in prison over N1.8bn alleged fund diversion

Money laundering: Court acquits Ikuforiji, ex-Lagos speaker, aide

A federal high court sitting in Abuja on Thursday remanded two staff of the Rural Electrification Agency (REA), at the Kuje Correctional facility pending a hearing on a N1.835 billion fraud allegation.

The two staff, Umar Musa Karaye and Emmanuel Pada Titus, and two others had been arraigned by the Independent and Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission, (ICPC) before Justice Emeka Nwite, over alleged fraud, criminal conspiracy and diversion of public funds amounting to N1.835 billion.

They had been benched following their nonappearance during their arraignment earlier scheduled for June 6, 2024, alleging N165m and N261m fraud allegations respectively.

It would be recalled that Osuoben Ekoi Akpanimisingha, assistant chief Legal Officer of the (ICPC), during the arraignment had recalled that the Defendants who had been personally served by him to appear before the Court on June 6, 2024, had deliberately failed to appear, despite having full details of their arraignments by the commission.

Read Also: Alleged fund diversion: Court orders arrest of three REA staff

In the four-count charges, the anti-graft agency accused the defendants of receiving the sums of N165m and N261m respectively in different tranches under the false presence of project supervision thereby committing an offence contrary to the Advanced Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act, 2006.

The Counts for Karaye read:
Count 1; That you Umar Musa Karaye (M) sometime in March 2023 or there about while being a public officer in the employment of REA at Abuja within the jurisdiction of this Honourable court, did with intent to defraud the said REA received the sum of N165m (One hundred and sixty-five million nairas only) in different tranches through your first bank account -2031253389 under the false presence of project supervision and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 1(1)(a) and punishable under section 1(3) of the Advanced Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act, 2006.

Count 2; That you Umar Musa Karaye (M) sometime in March 2023 or thereabout while being a public officer in the employment of REA at Abuja within the jurisdiction of this Honourable court did take possession of the sum of N165m (One hundred and sixty-five million nairas only) in different tranches through your first bank account -2031253389 when you reasonably ought to have known that such fund forms parts of the proceeds of an unlawful act, to wit: corruption and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 18 (2)(d) and punishable under section 18(3) of the Money Laundering (Prevention and Prohibition) Act, 2022.

Count 3: That you Umar Musa Karaye (M) sometime in March 2023 or thereabout while being a public officer in the employment of REA at Abuja within the jurisdiction of this Honourable court, did confer a corrupt advantage upon yourself when you received the sum of N165m (one hundred and sixty-five million nairas only) in different tranches through your first bank account -2031253389 for a purported project supervision exercise and you thereby committed an offence contrary to and punishable under section 19 of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2000.

Count 4; That you Umar Musa Karaye (M) sometime in March 2023 or thereabout while being a public officer in the employment of REA at Abuja within the jurisdiction of this Honourable court, did confer a corrupt advantage upon yourself when you received the sum of N165m (One hundred and sixty-five million nairas only) in different tranches through your first bank account -2031253389 for a purported project supervision exercise and you thereby committed an offence contrary to and punishable under section 68(1) of the Public Enterprise Regulatory Commission Act, CAP, P39 Laws of the Federation, 2004.

The charges against Titus (M) Reads:
Count 1; That you Emmanuel Pada Titus (M) sometime in March 2023 or there about while being a public officer in the employment of REA at Abuja within the jurisdiction of this Honourable court, did with intent to defraud the said REA received the sum of N261m (Two hundred and sixty-one million naira only) in different tranches through your first bank account -2031253389 under the false presence of project supervision and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 1(1)(a) and punishable under section 1(3) of the Advanced Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act, 2006

Count 2; That you Emmanuel Pada Titus (M) sometime in March 2023 or thereabout while being a public officer in the employment of REA at Abuja within the jurisdiction of this Honourable court did take possession of the sum of N261 (Two hundred and sixty-one million nairas only) in different tranches through your first bank account -2031253389 when you reasonably ought to have known that such fund forms parts of the proceeds of an unlawful act, to wit: corruption and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 18 (2)(d) and punishable under section 18(3) of the Money Laundering (Prevention and Prohibition) Act, 2022.

Count 3; That you Emmanuel Musa Pada (M) sometime in March 2023 or thereabout while being a public officer in the employment of REA at Abuja within the jurisdiction of this Honourable court, did confer corrupt advantage upon yourself when you received the sum of N261m (Two hundred and sixty-one million nairas only) in different tranches through your first bank account -2031253389 for a purported project supervision exercise and you thereby committed an offence contrary to and punishable under section 19 of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2000.

Count 4; That you Emmanuel Pada Musa (M) sometime in March 2023 or thereabout while being a public officer in the employment of REA at Abuja within the jurisdiction of this Honourable court, did confer corrupt advantage upon yourself when you received the sum of N261m (Two hundred and sixty-one million nairas only) in different tranches through your first bank account -2031253389 for a purported project supervision exercise and you thereby committed an offence contrary to and punishable under section 68(1) of the Public Enterprise Regulatory Commission Act, CAP, P39 Laws of the Federation, 2004.

The court adjourned the case to June 20 2024 for a Bail hearing and July 10 2024 for the commencement of trials respectively

President Bola Tinubu in March 2024, l suspended Ahmad Salihijo Ahmad, managing director and chief executive of the REA indefinitely and others. The suspension followed an investigation into the financial activities of the Rural Electrification Agency and the diversion of N1.2 billion into personal accounts.