EFCC arraigns ex-NHIS boss for $2.2m illegal transaction

By The Citizen

A Federal High Court in Lagos on Wednesday ordered the prison remand of a former Executive Secretary of the National Health Insurance Scheme, Dr. Femi Thomas, for allegedly making cash transaction in the sum of $2.2m without going through any financial institution.

Also remanded in connection with the alleged crime was a Bureau De Change operator, Kabiru Sidi.

Thomas and Sidi were arraigned on four counts by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission before Justice Saliu Saidu.

The EFCC alleged that Thomas, a two-term Commissioner for Health in Ekiti State, conspired with his wife, Femi, to make cash payment of $2.2m to one Mr. Ibitoye John Bamidele, at their residence 20, Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Idi-Araba, Lagos.

Sidi was charged for allegedly lying to an EFCC investigator, Afeez Mustapha, that he was the owner of the $2.2m that Thomas and his wife transacted with.

The EFCC prosecutor, Mr. A. B. C. Ozioko, who arraigned Thomas and Sidi before Justice Saidu on Wednesday, said the two defendants acted contrary to sections 18(2)(b), 1(a) and 39(2)(b) of the EFCC (Establishment) Act 2004.

Ozioko said they were liable to be punished under sections 16(2)(b) and 39 (2)(c) of the same Act.

But upon reading the charges to them, Thomas and Sidi pleaded not guilty, following which Ozioko prayed for the trial date and an order remanding them in prison custody.

But the defence counsel, led by Dr. Joseph Nwobike (SAN), informed the court of Thomas' application seeking bail on self-recognisance.

Nwobike also prayed the court to admit Sidi to bail on liberal terms.

In a short ruling, Justice Saidu granted Thomas bail in the sum of N25m with two sureties in like sum.

The judge said one of the sureties must be a civil servant on Grade Level 15 in the employment of the federal or state government, while the second surety must own a landed property within Lagos State.

Justice Saidu admitted Sidi to bail in the sum of N10m with two sureties in like sum.

He said one of the sureties must be a civil servant on Grade Level 12 in the employment of the federal or state government.

The judge also ordered that the two sureties must depose to an affidavit of means and submit their passport photographs, while he ordered the two accused persons to deposit their passports with the court's registrar.

Justice Saidu, however, ordered that the accused persons should be remanded in prison pending when they would perfect their bail conditions.

He adjourned till May 12 for trial. Punch