By NBF News

By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
ABUJA - The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, yesterday, secured leave of a Federal High Court in Abuja to prefer fresh criminal charge against the former Director of the Pensions Department, Office of the Head of Service of the Federation, Dr Sani Teidi Shuaibu, and five others accused of complicity in an alleged N12 billion pension scam.

The anti-graft agency insisted that accused persons conspired and swindled the Federal Government through over 130 bogus contracts purportedly awarded to 25 different companies, adding that the alleged scam was perpetrated between 2008 and 2010.

Beside the Pension boss, others on trial are the deputy director, Mrs. Phina Chidi; his personal assistant, Aliyu Bello; Abdullahi Omeiza, Garba Abdullahi Tahir and Emmanuel Olanipekun.

The EFCC equally joined some corporate entities that it said were instrumental to the alleged fraud, as co-defendants in the suit.

The High Court yesterday gave the EFCC the nod to arraign them on July 27 over an amended criminal charge.

Though they were ab-initio docked on May 9, over a 134-count criminal charge bordering on corruption, abuse of office and advance fee fraud, however, the prosecuting counsel, Mr Godwin Obla, yesterday told the trial High Court that the agency uncovered fresh facts that would warrant the matter to start de-novo.

Consequently, he sought the consent of the court to prefer an amended charge against the accused persons, a request that was accordingly granted by the trial judge in the matter, Justice Adamu Bello.

The defence counsel, who were yesterday led by Chief Chris Uche, SAN and Mr S. I. Ameh, SAN, pleaded the judge to order the anti-graft agency to furnish them with the corresponding proof of evidence against their clients.

Following a no objection stance by EFCC lawyer, the trial judge okayed the prayer, just as he adjourned the matter for plea taking.

The EFCC is equally alleging that the accused persons used ghost pensioners and fraudulently paid N5 million on monthly basis, into a private account, insisting that they attempted to cover the fraud by awarding fictitious contracts with a view to claiming that the said monies were used to offset contract debts.

The anti-graft commission further disclosed that it later unearthed that out of over 141,000 names on the pensioners list only 90,000 were genuine, alleging that remainder 51,000 names on the list were fake pensioners who it said were purportedly paid from the coffers of the federal government.