Friday, October 25, 2013

N32bn Police Pension Scam: How N14bn vanished without my knowledge, witness tells court

The Head of Internal Audit at the Police Pension Office, Mr. Adeyemo
Julius Adebolu, yesterday, narrated before a High Court of the Federal
Capital Territory, how about N14billion meant for pensioners across
the federation, vanished overnight.
Adebolu who mounted the witness box yesterday, said he never received
any voucher for audit payment of the funds which the Economic and
Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, said was stolen by seven civil
Those fingered in the fraud were Mrs. Uzoma Cyril Attang, Esai
Dangabar, Atiku Abubakar Kigo, Ahmed Inuwa Wada, Mrs. Veronica Ulonma
Onyegbula, Sani Habila Zira, and Christian Madubuike.
In total, the anti-graft agency told the court that the accused
persons succeeded in pilfering about N32billion meant for retired
police officers.
At the resumed hearing on the matter yesterday, Adebolu who was led in
evidence by EFCC lawyer Mr Rotimi Jacobs, SAN, told trial Justice
Husseini Baba when he was shown First Bank statement of account of the
police pension office on withdrawals to the tune of N14 billion that
the withdrawals under his watch were a big embarrassment done without
his knowledge.
"I didn't know anything about the cheques before that day," he lamented.
When asked if there was any voucher backing the payments, the witness
said: "Honestly sir, there is no voucher I received for audit payment,
that's the truth."
The witness had earlier told the court that there was a federal
government circular mandating all payments to be made via E-payments
from January 1, 2009 and that the police pension office had flouted
that orders up till September 2009.
Meanwhile, the court yesterday admitted the circular as Exhibit P5,
even as the prosecution tendered as Exhibits, bundles of certified
Cheques from the First bank as Exhibit P4 raised in the names of two
accused persons Veronica U Onyegbula / Director, Police Pension Office
Adebolu also told the court that it was when he was invited to EFCC
that he was shown the bank statement and cheques with regards to the
He told the court that verification exercise/tours were conducted up
to four times in a year in the police pension office and that he made
payments on an average of N400million for the Duty Tour Allowance
(DTA) for officers involved in the verification exercises.
Besides, the witness, cited an instance where he got an alert of
N2million and N5million respectively and when he sought clarification
from the Head of Account, Mr John Yakubu Yusuf, he was told that the
money is meant for payment of the senate and house committee members
on police pension.
He said when he asked why the money was raised in his name, he was
told that management had agreed that the money will be paid in cash
rather than electronically and the voucher duly approved by the
Director, Police Pension Office was then raised before he cashed and
handed over the N7million from his account to the Head of the central
pay Office.
The witness also told the court that during festivity periods like
Sallah, Christmas and Easter, Mr Yusuf, had on about five occasions,
called him and gave him money for his section, totalling N3.5million.
"The instruction will always be that I should take 60% and share the
balance to others, so because we are many, I take 30% and shared
according to our rank".
Meantime, counsel to the first accused person, Chief Adegboyega
Awomolo, SAN, asked the witness if the EFCC invited him in writing or
on phone, Adebolu replied and said he was invited on phone through his
The defence then asked for an adjournment to enable him to cross
examine the witness effectively, saying he is very important in the
Consequently, Justice Baba adjourned the case to December 5 and 6 for
continuation of trial.

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