The trial of Tahir Abdullahi Garba, a chief accountant in the Pension Office of the Office of the Head of Service of the Federation, whose company, Charo Bureau De Change Limited, was allegedly used to siphon stolen pension funds continued on Thursday, June 11, before Justice Gabriel Kolawole of the Federal High Court, Maitama, Abuja.
Mr. Garba is being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, alongside his company, Charo Bureau De Change Limited, on a 23-count charge of fraud to the tune of N514.9m, allegedly stolen from the Pension Account, Office of the Head of Service of the Federation.
On Thursday, the third prosecution witness, PW3, Mohammed Goji, who is also an operative with the Commission, told the court how ghost pensioners were discovered during the joint task team exercise carried out in the Pension Office for bio-metric enrolment of pensioners.
Led in evidence by counsel to the EFCC, Emmanuel Egwuagu, Mr. Goji revealed different ways through which funds were siphoned such as payment of ghost pensioners, payment of collective allowances and payment for non-existent contracts.
While expatiating on this claim, Mr. Goji told the court that in the course of investigation, they uncovered how two suspicious payment mandates were sent to the defunct FinBank for them to credit 16 beneficiaries in the sum of N45m and N49m.
Asked what the money was meant for, Mr. Goji told the court that, “the money was used by the accused for payments of ghost pensioners who were not genuine beneficiaries of pension but had several fictitious bank accounts”.
He also told the court that the investigation team visited all States of the Federation in order to ascertain the authenticity of the beneficiaries of such payments, the result of which showed that, the members of staff of the Office of the Head of Service of the Federation such as the accused person, Tahir Abdullahi Garba; former Pension Director, Sani Shaibu Teidi; Deputy Director, Phina Tchidi were behind the fraudulent deal to divert pension funds.
According to Mr. Goji, Mr. Garba was involved in using a single individual to collect allowances such as “Duty Travelling Allowance” for a number of staff for fictitious journeys and in turn divert such monies to his company, Charo Bureau de Change Limited.
“Another intriguing method used by the accused and his accomplices to siphon funds was payment for non-existent contracts in which payments were made from the pension fund to individuals or beneficiaries for contracts that neither existed nor executed at all,” Mr. Goji revealed.
Justice Kolawole adjourned the case to July 6 and 7, 2015 for further hearing.