Police Pension Scam: Onyegbula Drew Over 300 Cheques A Day - Witness
SAN FRANCISCO, July 12, (THEWILL) – Ramoni Alabi, senior manager, Internal Audit Investigation Unit of the First Bank of Nigeria Plc, who is a prosecution witness in the ongoing trial of Uzoma Cyril Attang and six other persons accused of abuse of office, theft and diverting over N20 billion in the police pension scam Friday told the court that one of the accused persons, Veronica Onyegbula drew a total of 303 cheques in a day.
“When we investigated the account on request from the EFCC, we found out that more than 200 cheques were paid daily. And in an attempt to beat the threshold of reporting to the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit, NFIU, on currency transaction, these cheques were drawn in the range of 500,000.00 to 4.9Million, hence the bank could not see the transaction as suspicious,” he told the court
At Friday’s hearing, counsel to EFCC, Rotimi Jacobs who led Alabi in evidence tendered documents which were admitted by the court as exhibit despite stiff opposition from the defence team. Admitted as exhibit by the court were the Certificate of Identification; Statements of Account spanning 2007 to 2011and a bunch of documents all constituting Mandate Card.
Justice Husseine Baba also admitted as Exhibit P4, photocopies of the cheques issued by the accused persons within that period but requested for the originals. The witness had told the court that the originals were in the bank’s archives.
Alabi during examination by EFCC counsel, told the court that on January 9, 2009, Veronica Onyegbula, the 4th accused person drew a total of 303 cheques, a trend which the witness alleged continued over time.
Asked how these withdrawals were made despite Central Bank of Nigeria directive to banks on electronic transactions on all government account, Alabi told the court that the bank had received the CBN’s circular of January 15, 2009 and directed all staff to comply. “We found out that the bank operators though claim ignorance of the CBN circular allowed cheques from the Police Pension Fund Account to be drawn”. The bank, he said, however “sanctioned them because there was evidence that the memo was given to all staff”. The beneficiaries of the cheques include the Director of the Police Pension Account and Onyegbula.
After the examination of the witness, counsel to the first accused person, Adegboyega Awomolo, SAN, asked the judge for a date as he may not be able to start and conclude cross examination. On his part, Kanu Agabi SAN counsel to Uzoma Cyril Attang made an oral application for the release of the international passport of his client. However, Justice Baba asked Agabi to make a formal application while adjourning the matter to October 24 and 25, 2013 for continuation of trial.
It will be recalled that the EFCC, had on April 10, 2013 arraigned Mrs. Uzoma Cyril Attang, and six other accused persons: Esai Dangabar, Atiku Abubakar Kigo, Ahmed Inuwa Wada, Mrs. Veronica Ulonma Onyegbula, Sani Habila Zira, and Christian Madubuke over their involvement in the police pension scam. The accused persons took their plea on an amended 20-count charge that borders on criminal breach of trust, an offence punishable under section 315 of the Penal code Act Cap 532 Laws of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, 2007.