How Nigeria’s Accountant General Compromised Government Payment Platforms To Convert Billions Of Workers Salaries To Personal Use
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission who is investigating the suspended Accountant General, Ahmed Idris for converting N109 billion for personal use releases fresh facts on how the AGF compromised the Treasury Single Account , TSA, Government Integrated Financial Management Information System , GIFMIS, Integrated Payroll and Personnel information system , IPPIS, and carted away billions of naira belonging to the government which was meant for workers salaries.
Idris and his co-defendants: Godfrey Olusegun Akindele, Mohammed Kudu Usman are standing trial in a N109 billion fraud before Justice A. O. Adeyemi Ajayi of the Federal Capital Territory High Court, FCT, Maitama, Abuja.
At the resumed trial of the case on Thursday, July 28, 2022 , Chief Investigative Officer of the case and Prosecution Witness One , PW1, Chief Superintendent of the EFCC , CSE Hayatu Sulaiman Ahmed, while being led in evidence by the prosecuting counsel, Rotimi Jacobs SAN, told the court that the investigations by the EFCC showed that, Idris while in office, compromised key units under his care like the TSA, GIFMIS and IPPIS that led to loss of funds by the government. Idris allegedly used the funds in constructing properties like the Gezawa Exchange Limited, Gezawa Integrated Farms, and Kano City Mall.
“.. We had cause to invite several individuals who had transactions with the Gezawa Commodity and Exchange Limited and found one Baita Ibrahim Kura of B I Kura Ibrahim, a Bureau de Change, BDC, operator based in Kano. We invited him and cautioned him and he voluntarily wrote a statement, claiming he made several payments like N208 million into Gezawa Commodity Market with Jaiz bank”, he said.
The witness further told the court that Ibrahim also admitted to have paid the sum of N866 million to one Architect Mustapha Mukhtar of Marsc Construction Limited for the construction of Gezawa Commodity Market and Exchange limited.
“My Lord, investigation showed that, Ibrahim received United States dollars from the first defendant. We also found out that agitation from the nine oil producing states, regarding derivation from the excess crude account, was tabled before the Federal Account Allocation Committee, FAAC and the committee came up with a figure of about $2.2 billion as what was due to the nine oil producing states, and these amount was to be deducted over a 60 months period on quarterly basis”, he said.
The witness further told the court that 11.5% of this figure amounting to N44.7 billion was put aside as payments to some public officials to facilitate payments to the oil producing states.
“After the determination of this committee, my lord, some companies, Akindele and Co, a company owned by the second defendant, Godfrey Olusegun Akindele was presented under the guise of consultancy .
“My Lord, until recently, the second defendant, Akindele was a staff in the office of the AGF, and Technical Assistant to the first defendant. Investigation revealed that N84.39 billion was paid into Akindele’s bank accounts. According to the witness, another transaction occurred on February 12, 2021 with N 21billion paid into his account.
The witness further revealed that aside the payment of money that was made on February 12, 2021, other payments were made on May 6, 2021, and between July 28, 2021 and November 5, 2021 amounting to N94.39 billion.
Ahmed further told the court funds were shared to some groups, including the Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission, RMAFC, represented by one of its Commissioners, Peace Akomas, former Deputy Governor of Abia State, who allegedly collected N18.8 billion . He said the money was withdrawn by Akindele and converted to US dollars and handed over to Akomas.
“The second group is the AGF group and it got a total sum of N18.01 billion.
“The third group, the Commissioners of Finance in the nine oil producing states, received N21.4 billion. The money was withdrawn by Akindele, converted to US dollars and handed over to Akomas on behalf of the group.
“The fourth group is called the Yari group. This group received N17.15 billion. The entirety of the sum was transferred to the account of Fimex Professional Services on the instruction of the representative of this group: Abdulaziz Yari, former Zamfara state governor.
The remaining N8.9 billion naira was retained by the second defendant. Furthermore, N4.29 billion was converted to US dollars by Akindele as appreciation for the consultancy contract, and the balance of N4.6 billion was given to Akindele.
Ahmed confirmed to the court that all his disclosures were confirmed by the defendants in writing, in their statements admitting to have collected all the monies.
Also, properties purchased with the funds by the first and third defendants were traced to various locations in Abuja, Kano, and Minna, Niger state.
Earlier, Justice Ajayi admitted the defendants to bail on the terms earlier granted by the EFCC. One of the bail conditions is that, the defendants should not leave the jurisdiction of the court without the court’s permission, and their passports deposited with the court’s registrar and in no circumstance should any of the defendants apply for an alternative passport, as doing so, will revoke the bail terms. They should also depose to an affidavit to adhere to the bail conditions.
In the EFCC’s bail conditions, Idris was granted bail in the sum of N18 billion, and two sureties. One of the sureties should be a Permanent Secretary, and the other a Director in the Federal Civil Service with bond of N100,000,000 ( One Hundred Million Naira) each.
Akindele was admitted to bail in the sum of N20 billion and two sureties who must be Directors in the Federal Civil Service and Usman was granted bail in the sum of N200 million and two Directors in like sum.
The Judge thereafter adjourned the matter to August 10 and 11, 2022 for continuation of trial.