By Soni Daniel, Northern Region Editor
The Executive Chairman of the Edo State Universal Basic Education Board, Mr. Stephen Alao and the Director of Finance, Mr. Adams Osabuohien, are in deep trouble with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission over questionable financial operations at the education agency.
Both men, who were arrested yesterday, have already been moved to the Ibadan Zonal Office of the EFCC for detailed interrogation over allegations they jointly made misappropriated at least N1.5 billion of public funds at their disposal.
They may be charged to court to account for the huge sum if EFCC operatives find sufficient evidence of graft against them.
The duo are being interrogated by top operatives of the EFCC in Ibadan over the alleged crime.
According to the petition submitted to the EFCC, both men and others still being investigated were involved in “corruption, fraud, criminal breach of trust, unlawful enrichment and conversion of billions of Naira of the board”.
According to the petition, the Executive Chairman allegedly inflated contracts, approved bogus weekly Duty Tour Allowances (DTA) for non-existence conferences, used fictitious companies to defraud the board and sold Government properties without remitting same to Government account.
A top EFCC official confirmed to Vanguard on Wednesday that some other officials of the board who were fingered in the alleged fraud are still being investigated to ascertain their levels of culpability to the alleged criminal breaches.
The arrest of the two men coincides with the conviction of two top officials of the Zamfara State Universal Basic Education Board, Gambo Lawal Tsafe and Kasimu Mohammed for fraud by Justice Fatima Murtala of the Federal High Court Gusau.
The convicts, Director and Accountant respectively of the Zamfara State Universal Basic Education Board, ZASUBEB, were arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on the 12th day of June, 2016 on a three-count charge bordering on conspiracy and money laundering. Upon their arraignment, they pleaded ‘not guilty’ but at the resumed hearing on Tuesday November 22, changed their plea, as they pleaded not ‘guilty’ to a two count amended charge. This followed a plea bargain agreement they entered with the prosecution.
In view of their latest plea, counsel for the prosecution, M.S Abubakar urged the court to convict them accordingly.
While reviewing the facts of the case, Abubakar told the court that one Nasiru Nahoro, a contractor with the Zamfara State Universal Basic Education Board (ZASUBEB) was awarded a contract by the board under the chairmanship of one Murtala Adamu who is facing a ten- count charge of money laundering before the same court to the tune of over N30 million.
The contract was for the construction of office block at the board in the sum of N74 million. However, it was gathered that the chairman of the board, Murtala Adamu, received the sum of N7.4 million as ten percent gratification of the contract sum through the account of the first convict, Gambo Lawal.
The first convict after taking his share of N160,000, transferred the remaining N7,165,000 to the second convict. Subsequently, the second convict, withdrew cash in the sum of N7,145,000 and took same to the board chairman.
In the process, the second convict retained the sum of N20,000 (Twenty Thousand Naira Only) as his own share.
Justice Murtala today handed various fines to the convicts. The first convict, Gambo Lawal got a fine of N800,000 (Eight Hundred Thousand Naira Only) which is equivalent to five times the amount he benefitted (One Hundred and Sixty Thousand Naira Only), while the second convict, Kasimu Mohammed was fine N100,000, five times equivalent of the N20,000 (Twenty Thousand Naira Only) he benefitted.
In addition, both convicts were ordered to refund the proceeds of their crime N160,000 and N20,000 respectively to the Federal Government through the EFCC.
SOURCE: Vanguard Newspaper