The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), on Thursday, arraigned a former Coordinating Director of the Federal Inland Revenue Service, Peter Hena and eight other top officers of the agency before Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu of the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja.
The EFCC had filed a 42-count charge bordering on corruption, fraud and criminal misappropriation of funds to the turn of N4,558,160,676.9 against the principal officers.
Facing charges alongside Hena are the Director of Finance, Mohammed Auta; Amina Sidi (Finance and Account department); Umar Aduka (Internal Audit); Mbura Mustapha (Deputy Manager); Obi Malachy (Services Group); Obaje Adofu (Head of Budget); Udo-Inyang Alfred (Officer II) and Benjamin Jiya (Assistant Director).
In a statement by the EFCC spokesman, Wilson Uwujaren, titled, ‘EFCC arraigns three FIRS directors, six other officers for N4.5bn fraud,’ count one of the charge read:
“That you, Peter Hena, Mohammed Bello Auta, Amina Sidi, Umar Aliyu Aduka, Mbura, Mustapha, Obi Okeke Malachy, Obaje Napoleon Adofu, Udo-Inyang Effiong Alfred and Benjamin Jiya while being staff of the Federal Inland Revenue Services between January, 2017 and December 2018 in Abuja within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court conspired together with the other officials of FIRS to conceal funds which are proceeds of an unlawful activities to wit: Corruption, Fraud and Criminal Misappropriation of Funds and you thereby committed an offence contrary to section 18 and punishable under section 15(2) (a) and (3) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 ( as amended by Act No. 1 of 2021).”
The defendants, however, pleaded ‘not guilty’.
The EFCC counsel, Ekele Iheanacho, in view of the defendants’ plea, asked the court for a date to commence trial.
Counsel to the defendant prayed the court to grant them bail.
Granting them a bail in the sum of N100m each, Justice Ojukwu stressed that they must provide sureties in like sum who must also be Nigerians residing in Abuja with landed property within the jurisdiction of the court, as well as an evidence of tax clearance.
The judge also ruled that the defendants are to deposit their travel documents with the court and to seek the permission of the court before travelling out of the country.
Justice Ojukwu adjourned the case till June 14, 15, 23, 24, 28, 29, 2021 for commencement of trial.