The ongoing trial of seven persons accused of complicity in the police pension scam, continued on Wednesday, June 25, 2014 before Justice Hussein Baba Yusuf of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.
The seven accused persons who are being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission are; Esai Dangabar, Atiku Abubakar Kigo, Ahmed Inuwa Wada, Mrs. Veronica Ulonma Onyegbula, Sani Habila Zira, Uzoma Cyril Attang and Christian Madubuke.
The accused persons, who allegedly defrauded the Police Pension Office to the tune of N24billion, were arraigned on April 10, 2013 on a 20-count amended charge that borders on criminal breach of trust contrary to section 315 of the Penal code Act Cap 532 Laws of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, Nigeria 2007.
At the resumed hearing of the case today, Mustapha Gadanya who was led in evidence by counsel to EFCC, Rotimi Jacobs, SAN told the court that while investigating the matter, he requested e-payment mandate and other payment instructions from the Police Pension Office. “In response they brought along copies of payment instructions which explained the transactions on the account apart from the cheques”, he said.
The letter of request emanating from EFCC and the corresponding documents from First Bank of Nigeria Plc, duly certified by staff of the Bank and the EFCC, were tendered in evidence.
However, the defence opposed the admissibility of the documents from Police Pension Office to First Bank Nigeria Plc, authorizing the transactions on the ground that, the Bank could not certify a document that it did not generate.
Justice Baba-Yusuf admitted the letters of request from the EFCC as Exhibits 7 A and B but agreed with the defence that only the Police Pension Office can authenticate its documents.
Testifying further, Gadanya told the court how EFCC investigation uncovered direct payment of allowances to the accounts of staff of the Police Pension Office in contravention of the e – payment circular. “We sent a letter to the Office of Accountant General to confirm if there was an exemption to the Police Pension Office with regards to e-payment, which they responded that they were not aware”, he stated. Copies of the letter and the response from Accountant General were tendered and admitted as Exhibit 8 A and B.
The prosecution also tendered three letters from the EFCC requesting the Police Pension Office to furnish it with vouchers, cashbooks and other accounting documents detailing the withdrawals of cash within the period of 2009 to 2011; 2007 to 2008 as exhibits. The response from the Police Pension Office to the request was equally admitted as exhibits.
The defense led by Adegboyega Awomolo, SAN however, kicked against the admissibility of one of the responses dated January 6, 2014 claiming that it was a ploy to subvert the trial because the date showed that, it was written in the course of the ongoing prosecution.
However, Jacobs argued that, the document does not violate the Evidence Act. He stated further that, the letter is admissible as the person tendering it has no personal or peculiar interest in the matter.
Justice Baba-Yusuf reserved ruling for the admissibility of the letter of dated January 6, 2014 and titled, "RE- Investigation Activities", to September 24, 2014.
Media & Publicity
25th June, 2014