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Ex-HoS, Oyo-Ita Docked, Secures N100m bail On Money Laundering Charge

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Monday arraigned the immediate past Head of Civil Service of the Federation, Winifred Oyo-Ita, and eight others before the Federal High Court in Abuja on an 18-count corruption charge. The anti-graft agency, in the charge marked FHC/ABJ/CR/60/2020, alleged that the former HoS was involved in money laundering, Duty Tour Allowance, DTA, fraud and also received kick-backs on contracts while she was in service.

 

According to the prosecution, aside from collecting estacodes and ticket fees for journeys not embarked on, the erstwhile HoS collaborated with her co-defendants to disguise the genuine ownership of funds they diverted into accounts of various private companies. Other defendants also arraigned over the alleged fraud about N500million, included a civil servant who was identified as the alter ego of some of the companies, Garba Umar, as well as Oyo-Ita’s personal assistant, Ubong Okon Effiok.

 

 

Others are the six indicted companies, including Frontline Ace Global Services Ltd,  Asanaya Projects Limited, Slopes International Limited, Gooddeal International Limited, U & U Global Services Limited and Prince Mega Logistics Limited. They all pleaded not guilty to the charge,  even as they begged the court, through their respective lawyers, to release them on bail, pending the determination of the charge against them.

 

 

In his submission, Oyo-Ita’s lawyer, Mr. Paul Erokoro, SAN, pleaded the court to take into consideration, “the raging coronavirus pandemic”, and grant his client bail. He argued that the charge against the defendants contained bailable offences and undertook to ensure that his client would be available to face her trial. On its part, the EFCC, through its lawyer, Mr. Mohammed Abubakar, urged the court to impose conditions that would guarantee the availability of all the defendants for trial, especially the former HoS. It told the court that Oyo-Ita’s “antecedents and conduct have been problematic for the prosecution”.

 

 

EFCC also urged the court to take into account, the nature of the charge that bordered on corruption. In his ruling, trial Justice Taiwo Taiwo granted the former HoS bail to the tune of N100million with two sureties in like sum. While one of the sureties must be a civil servant not below grade level 17, they must be resident in Abuja with one of them owning a landed property that is worth the bail sum.

 

 

However, the court granted both Umar and Effiok bail in the sum of N50m with two sureties each in like sum. Justice Taiwo directed the defendants to surrender their international passports to the Deputy Chief Registrar of the Court. Though he handed the defendants over to their lawyers, the trial Judge ordered that they must report to the EFCC daily within the next seven days. He said the defendants should be taken into custody by the EFCC in the event that they failed to perfect their bail conditions within the seven days.

 

 

The matter was subsequently adjourned till May 27 for trial. Some of the charges against the defendants read: “That you WINIFRED OYO-ITA (whilst serving as a Deputy Director in the Federal Ministry of Power) and FRONTLINE Ace GLOBAL SERVICES LIMITED (a company incorporated in Nigeria and of which Winifred Oyo-Ita is the sole signatory of its bank accounts) sometime in April, 2010 within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court collaborated in disguising the genuine ownership of an aggregate sum of N20,000,000.00 (Twenty Million Naira only) paid by the Federal Ministry of Power into the bank account of Frontline Ace Global Services Limited No: 1011518656 which sum was derived directly from an illegal act, to wit: corruption and you thereby committed an offence punishable under section 14 (1)(b) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2004.

 

“That you WINIFRED OYO-ITA aka Oyo-,Ita Winifred Ekanem (whilst being the Head of Civil Service of the Federation) between 2nd August 2016 and 28th February, 2018 within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, took possession of an aggregate sum of N62,215,169.00 (Sixty Two Million, Two Hundred and Fifteen Thousand, One Hundred and Sixty Nine Naira only) paid into your bank account No: 1001074067 knowing that the said funds formed part of the proceed of an unlawful activity to wit: fraud (purported estacodes for journeys not embarked on) and you thereby committed an offence contrary to section 15(2)(d) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 (as amended) and punishable under section 15(3) of the same Act.
 

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