• Wednesday, May 29, 2024
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N3bn fraud: Ex-head of service diverted public funds to private companies – Witness


Hamma Bello, a chief superintendent of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) who is the eighth witness in the trial of Winifred Oyo-Ita, the former Head of Service has exposed how the defendant and her subordinates allegedly diverted public funds into private companies before the Federal High Court, Maitama, Abuja.

Oyo-Ita, along with her special assistants, Ugbong Okon Effiok, and Garba Umar, and six companies, namely Frontline Ace Global Services Limited, Asanaya Projects Limited, Slopes International Limited, U and U Global Services Ltd, Prince Mega Logistics Ltd, and Good Deal Investments, face 18 charges bordering on misappropriation, official corruption, money laundering, and criminal diversion of funds worth over N3 billion.

Bello, who was led in evidence by prosecution counsel Faruk Abdullahi and H.M. Mohammed, told the court on Thursday that Oyo-Ita used Slopes International Limited and Good Deal Investments Limited to fraudulently award government contracts to herself through Umar.

According to him, the first entry transaction of Good Deal Investment Ltd in February 2019 showed that money was paid into its Zenith Bank account to the tune of N42.7 million

Bello further stated that they called for the account statements of these two companies and realized that Umar was paid several sums of money from the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing where he is an employee. During the interview, the fourth defendant admitted that he was also a contractor and had paid the first defendant on several occasions from the proceeds of the transaction.

On April 27, 2019, he said a transfer of N20.2 million was made in the name of Ibrahim Madu to the Zenith Bank account of Asanaya Projects Ltd. The mandate card of the account bears the signature and photo of the seventh defendant, Effiok.

The investigation also revealed that the seventh defendant incorporated Asanaya Projects Ltd in his name with the knowledge of the first defendant and that approvals were granted and payments made to the seventh defendant either through his personal account or to the account of the company.

He further revealed that U and U Global Limited received several payments in the form of Duty Tour Allowances and estacodes from 2015 to 2018, and sometimes payments from the federal government were made directly to the account.

“For instance, on March 24, 2016, he received N40. 3 million from the federal government.

“The Fidelity Bank account of Prince Mega Logistics Ltd showed four entries on March 27, 2018, and April 6, 2018. The entries were N4.9 million N3. 9 million, N4.6 million, and N1.4 million. Thomson Titus Okure, who used to be a colleague of the seventh defendant in the Account Department, made the payments. There were also outward payments to Ignom, Minaro Blessing, Winifred Oyo-Ita, and Olarenwaju Godman Olushola. The seventh defendant is the sole signatory of this account”, Bello told the CoCourtBello also stated that they invited the first, second, and seventh defendants at different times to their office and interviewed them. In the case of the first defendant, they printed chats from her phone and saw conversations she had with contractors, subordinates, and permanent secretaries. She also voluntarily made a statement to the EFCC.

The matter was adjourned till April 30, 2024.