An investigator with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Roukayya Ibrahim, yesterday explained how a corps member was paid N23 million of a N1.2 billion pension fraud.
She also said an IT firm was paid about N153 million for the biometric contract without due process.
The investigator made the revelations while testifying before Justice Abubakar Talba of the FCT High Court at the resumption of the trial of four suspects.
The accused persons are Ibrahim Ahmed Mazangari, Muhammed Sani Sulaiman, Hajia Fatima Mazangari and Saleh Yerima Tsojon.
A statement by EFCC’s Head of Media and Publicity of the EFCC, Mr. Wilson Uwujaren said Tsojon, who was on his mandatory NYSC service in Calabar, received pension payment, which amounted to about N23 million.
The statement said: “The trial of Ibrahim Ahmed Mazangari, Muhammed Sani Sulaiman, Hajia Fatima Mazangari and Saleh Yerima Tsojon, who allegedly ran a syndicate that defrauded the Federal Government to the tune of N1.2 billion in a pension scam, continued on Monday (yesterday) with the prosecution witness giving insight into how they carried out the fraud.
“Led in evidence by prosecuting counsel O. A. Atolagbe, the witness, Roukayya Ibrahim, an investigator with the EFCC and a member of the pension fraud team, told the court that the fraud was uncovered in 2010 while the Head of Service Pension Board was being probed.
“We received intelligence of the syndicate operating in Kaduna, led by Hajia Fatima Mazangari, and we immediately commenced investigation.”
According to her, “the accused persons used two companies – Xangee Technologies Limited and Century Construction Company Limited – to perpetrate the fraud.”
“She told the court that Xangee Technologies Limited, which is owned by Mazangari, was offered a biometric contract by a former Head of Service, Steve Oronsaye, to regularise names of pensioners on the pensions’ payroll, but smuggled in names of fake pensioners (including his), and collected unearned pension,” the statement said.
The EFCC investigator said the biometric contract was awarded without due process.
“Investigations showed that Xangee, an IT firm, was paid about N153 million for the biometric contract, but we found out that the process of awarding the contract did not follow due process as there was no contract bidding, yet payment was made,” she said.
The second accused person, according to Roukayya, used three variants of his name to open three different pension accounts, to which about N24 million of pensions were paid; the money was afterwards withdrawn and handed over to Fatima.
The four accused persons are being prosecuted by the EFCC, on a 29-count charge of conspiracy, and obtaining by false pretence.
They were alleged to have obtained N1.2 billion from the Federal Government, purporting same to be monthly pension payable to M. S. Suleiman, Saleh Yerima Tsojon, Isah U. Adamu, Daniel Mikano and Abdulahi Garba Musa, who were falsely held out as pensioners, by inserting their names in the payroll.
Justice Talba fixed November 3, 2015 for further hearing.
Credit : The Nation