Alleged N400m fraud: Former Head of Service, Oyo-Ita gets N100m bail

The immediate past Head of Service of the Federation (HoSF), Mrs Winifred Oyo-Ita and eight others were on Monday arraigned before a Federal High Court in Abuja, on an 18-count charge, bordering on corruption and money laundering to the tune of over N400 million.

Oyo-Ita was arraigned along with Garba Umar, Ubong Effiok as well as six other companies linked to the defendants by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

The former Head of Service and her codefendants pleaded not guilty to the charges, upon which their lawyers moved an oral application for their bail.

The trial Judge, Justice Taiwo Taiwo in his ruling granted Oyo-Ita to a bail of N100 million and two sureties in like sum.

One of the two sureties, according to the judge, must be a grade level 17 officer in the federal government employment or any of its agencies and must have a landed property worth the bail bond.

The second surety, the Judge held, must show evidence of being gainfully employed and has the capability of paying N100 million in the event that the defendant jumped bail.

Justice Taiwo further ordered that Oyo-Ita must deposit her international passport with the registrar of the court and shall be reporting to the prosecuting counsel at the EFCC’s office for seven days, effective from March 24, 2020, when she is expected to perfect her bail conditions.

The Judge, however, admitted Garba Umar and Ubong Effiok to bail in the sum of N50 million and two sureties each, in like sum.

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Other conditions attached to their bail are similar to that of the former Head of Service, who is the first defendant in the charge.

Oyo-Ita, in count one, was alleged to have used her position as Deputy Director in the Federal Ministry of Power in 2010 to divert the sum of N20 million into her personal company, Front Line Ace Global Services Limited contrary to section 14 of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act 2004.

She was also alleged to have, between April and May 2010, while as Deputy Director in the Federal Ministry of Power, converted to herself the sum of N26.4 million through a company allegedly linked to her in counts two and three of the charge.

The charge in counts four and five further showed that the first defendant also converted the sum of N66.9 million, being public funds under the guise of purported estacodes for journeys not embarked on, contrary to section 15 of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act 2011.

In counts six and seven, the EFCC accused her of taken possession of another N45 million along with her former Personal Assistant, Ubong Effiok, under the guise that the money was for conference fees, estacodes and ticket fees as well as Duty Tour Allowance (DTA) for journeys not made.

In counts eight and nine, the federal government accused Oyo-Ita along with Umar, a civil servant, of diverting the sum of N63 million as part payment for a contract paid to Good deal Investment Limited, allegedly owned by Umar.

In count 18, Oyo-Ita was accused of failing to make full disclosure of her assets in the Assets Declaration Form of August 12, 2019, which she filled at the EFCC’s office in Abuja.

Meanwhile, Justice Taiwo ordered that the defendants be released to their respective lawyers pending the perfection of their bail conditions.

The Judge said that the decision to release the defendants to their lawyers was made in view of the Corona Virus pandemic in the country, adding that lives should not be put to unnecessary danger.

The court fixed May, 27 and 28 as well as June 2, 3 and 4, 2020 to commence the trial of the former Head of Service and her codefendants.

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