A prosecution witness in the ongoing trial of seven person accused of complicity in the multi-billion naira police pension fraud has narrated how 400 cheques were cashed in a day by the accused persons.
The witness, Mustapha Gadanya, on Tuesday, March 11, 2014 told Justice Hussein Baba of the Federal Capital Territory High Court that “over 400 cheques were withdrawn and we got this information from the bank statement furnished us by First Bank Plc.”
Led in evidence by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission counsel, Rotimi Jacobs, SAN, Gadanya told the court on Tuesday in Abuja that he obtained and analyzed the Certified True Copy of instruments used in making withdrawals in the name of Veronica Onyegbula and the Directors of Police Pension office, Esai Dangaba, Abubakar Atiku and Inuwa Wada.
A statement by the Head, Public Relations Unit, EFCC, Wilson Uwajaren, explained that Gadanya told the court that the directors carried out the cheque transactions without any letter of exemption from compliance with the e-payment circular from the office of the Accountant General.
“Over 400 cheques were withdrawn and we got this information from the bank statement furnished us by First Bank Plc.
“We discovered that the three directors are all signatories to the fraudulent cheques. We also discovered that Mrs. Uzoma Attang, John Yusuf, Gabriel Ikpe, Mike Okoro and one Mrs Amu (currently at large), are among those who signed the cheques,” Gadanya said.
Justice Baba, who was apparently shocked by the revelation, sought to know from the witness what currency was involved to which the witness responded, “Naira, my Lord”.
Gadanya then went on to state that between January 31, 2011 and May 6, 2011, over N1bn was withdrawn and that the sum of N650m was withdrawn on January 31,2011.
He said, “We discovered that between August 2007 and December 2007, over N4bn was withdrawn; between January and December 2008, over N5bn was withdrawn; between January and December 2009, over N8bn was withdrawn and between January and December 2010, over N3bn was withdrawn.”
The witness also informed the court that between February and May 2011 when Wada was the director of the police pension office, he withdrew about N850m, while over N4bn was withdrawn between December 2009 and January, 2011 when Abubakar was the director of the police pension office.
Also over N14bn was withdrawn during Dangabar’s tenure from January 2008 to November 2009, bringing the total amount siphoned from the police pension account to N20bn, which EFCC described as a flagrant violation of extant financial regulations.
However, attempt by the prosecution to tender two documents – the analysis of the cheques and the certificate of identification- was opposed by the defence counsel.
Baba adjourned proceedings to March 12, for ruling on the defendants’ objection and continuation of trial.