Ex-SSG remanded in prison custody for fund diversion

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A Nigerian High Court in the city of Benin, Edo state, has remanded in prison a former Secretary to Edo State Government (SSG), Simon Imuekemhe, and three former staff of the State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB), over alleged diversion of N113 million SUBEB fund.

The other accused persons are Joseph Sule Emoabido, (Chairman of the Board), David Eson Igbinoba, (Secretary to the Board) and Aghator Gaskin Efe, (Director of Finance and Accounts of the Board).‎

The accused persons were arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on an eight-count charge of allegedly spending funds allocated for a particular project on another project contrary to section 22 (5) of the Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Act 2000.Justice symbol

According to count one charge sheet, the accused persons were alleged to have spent the sum of N16.8m for the construction of perimeter wall fencing in Ivbiore Primary School, Ugbor, while count two read that the accused persons spent N13.2 million for the renovation of six classroom block in Ikirodah Primary School Ugiekhawhile. They were also charged with spending N12. 4 million for the renovation of six classrooms block in Ikabigbo Primary School Ikabigbo.

Counts six and seven said the accused persons spent N22.1 million and N13. 1 million for the renovation of six classroom/office blocks in Ogan/Oviawe primary Schools and construction of perimeter fence, water closet suites and drilling of borehole in Ebenezer Primary School Benin-City.

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All the projects were allegedly not covered by the intervention funds of SUBEB/State government.

Counsel to the accused persons, Mr. Omoruyi Omonuwa (SAN) and other legal representatives, while praying that the administrative bail granted to them by the EFCC should be extended, argued that since the EFCC commenced investigations into the matter, the accused persons have always made themselves available in the court indicating that they were wiling to subject themselves for the trial.

But Justice Esther Edigin in her ruling on the application, aligned herself with Counsel to the anti-graft agency, Mr. Aso Larry Peters that once the accused persons have taken their pleas and deemed to be before the court, other bail arrangements made before then were deemed to have expired.

She therefore ruled that the accused persons be remanded in prisons custody pending the determination of their applications for bails and adjourned sitting to the 14 March 2014.

Journalists who attempted to take photograph of the accused persons were attacked by their sympathisers as they were serenaded into a waiting van to convey them to prison.