16th September, 2015
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on Tuesday, September 15, 2015 arraigned four persons before Justice Abubakar Talba of the Federal High Court, Gudu, Abuja, on a 29-count charge bordering on conspiracy, and collecting by false pretence.
The four accused persons – Ibrahim Ahmed Mazangari, Muhammed Sani Sulaiman, Hajia Fatima Mazangari and Saleh Yerima Tsojon, are alleged to have obtained N1.2 billion from the Federal Government by false pretence and with intent to defraud, purporting same to be monthly pension payable to M. S. Suleiman, Saleh Yerima Tsojon, Isah U. Adamu, Daniel Mikano, and Abdulahi Garba Musa who were falsely held out at pensioners of the Federal Government, by inserting their names in the pensioners’ payroll.
The accused persons, who were offered a biometric contract by a former Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Steve Oronsaye, to regularize names of pensioners on the pensions’ payroll, allegedly smuggled in names of fake pensioners, and collected unearned pension.
The fraud allegedly involved two companies – Xangee Technologies Limited and Century Construction Company Limited.
Justice Talba had at the sitting of June 30, 2015 rejected a plea bargain proposal mooted by Ibrahim Salau, counsel to Mazangari, before adjourning to September 15, 2015 as a result of the absence of Fatimah Mazangari, the third accused person, who according to Salau was ill. “Don’t mention plea bargain here. I don’t want to hear about it,” the judge had declared.
At the resumed sitting today, all the accused persons were present in court to take their plea.
One of the charges reads: “That you Ibrahim Ahmed Mazangari, Muhammed Sani Suleiman and Xangee Technologies Limited between 28th April, 2011 and 24th November 2011, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, by false pretence and with intent to defraud, obtained an aggregate sum of N1,072,873.74 from the Federal Government.”
The accused persons pleaded not guilty when the charges were read to them.
In view of their plea, the prosecuting counsel, O. A. Atolagbe, while expressing eagerness for the trial to commence, prayed the court for a short adjournment as one of the key witnesses, who was to appear in court, was recently bereaved.
Meanwhile, counsel to the accused, Salau moved bail application for the accused persons, and prayed the court to admit them to bail on liberal terms, arguing that, “the accused persons will not default.”
Though Atolagbe did not oppose the bail application, he urged the court to “put into consideration the nature of the offence, as it touches on financial crimes involving large sums of money.”
Justice Talba, in his ruling on the bail application, admitted the accused persons to bail in the sum of N10 million and two sureties each in like sum, one of which must be a director in the Federal Civil Service, and the other a responsible member of the society, who must submit an affidavit of means and tax documents.
While fixing November 2 and 3, 2015 for trial to begin, Justice Talba ordered that the accused persons be remanded in prison custody, pending the fulfilment of the bail conditions.