Home News Court okays arraignment of REA officials indicted in alleged N1.84bn fraud

Court okays arraignment of REA officials indicted in alleged N1.84bn fraud

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ABUJA- A Federal High Court, Abuja, on Monday, fixed Sept. 26 for arraignment of another two senior staff of Rural Electrification Agency (REA) by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) for alleged N1.84billion fraud.

The officials, who are being prosecuted separately, are Aminat Asuni and Laure Abdullahi.

They were part of the five others already arraigned by the ICPC before sister courts.

Justice Nkeonye Maha fixed the date after ICPC’s counsel, Mrs P.N. Emeka, sought an adjournment to enable the commission serve the defendants with the charges.

When the two matters were called, Emeka informed the court that the defendants were evading arrest.

She, however, applied for an adjournment to enable her effect the service of the processes on Asuni and Abdullahi before the next adjourned date, and Justice Maha fixed Sept. 26 for the defendants to take their plea.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the ICPC had filed two separate charges against Asuni and Abdullahi.

In the first charge marked: FHC/ABJ/CR/207/2024, the anti-corruption commission filed four-count charge dated May 8 and filed May 10 against Asuni, while Abdullahi was also preferred with four-count charge numbered: FHC/ABJ/CR/208/2024, and filed same day.

Asuni was alleged to have, sometime in March, 2023 or thereabout while being a public officer in the employment of REA Abuja and with intent to defraud the agency, received the sum of N336 million in different tranches through her Guaranty Trust Bank (GTB) account number: 0022457813 under the false pretence of project supervision.

On his part, Abdullahi was alleged to have, within the same period and with intent to defraud the agency, received N433 million in different tranches through his GTB account number: 0023343114 under the false pretence of project supervision.

The act was said to have contributed to economic adversity of REA.

The offence is contrary to Section 1(1)(a) and punishable under Section 1(3) of the Advance Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act, 2006, among others.

The two officials were being charged for diverting the N336 million and N433 million belonging to the agency.

NAN reports that the money formed part of the N1.84 billion allegedly misappropriated by seven top officials of REA, including Abubakar Sambo, Director of Finance and Account of the agency.

Other staff members under prosecution are Henrrientta Onomen Okojie, Usman Kwakwa, Emmanuel Pada Titus and Musa Umar Karaye.

They were alleged to have conspired to divert the funds for personal use.

President Bola Tinubu had, on March 7, suspended Mr Ahmad Salihijo Ahmad as Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of REA indefinitely, alongside three executive directors of the agency.

President Tinubu appointed Mr Abba Abubakar Aliyu as the MD and CEO to replace Ahmad.

The suspension followed an investigation into the financial activities of REA.

According to Ajuri Ngelale, the Special Adviser to the President Media and Publicity, the conduct of the aforementioned officials was probed over misappropriation of N1.2 billion over the past two years, some of which had already been recovered by anti-graft agencies.

However, investigations by ICPC, weeks after Ahmad’s suspension, revealed that he had no link with the allegations.

Against this backdrop, the anti-corruption commission filed different separates charges against Sambo, Okojie, Asuni, Abdullahi, Kwakwa, Pada and Karaye before Justices Emeka Nwite, Bolaji Olajuwon and Maha of the Federal High Court, Abuja.

While Sambo had been arraigned before Justice Olajuwon; Okojie, Kwakwa, Pada and Karaye were arraigned before Justice Nwite; and Asuni and Abdullahi’s matters are before Justice Maha.(NAN)

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