The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission EFCC on Monday, March 23, 2020 arraigned the immediate past Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, HoCSF, Winnifred Oyo-Ita before Justice Taiwo Taiwo of the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja. She was arraiagned on 18 count charge bordering on Fraud and Money Laundering. They are being prosecuted over a N570, 000, 000 (Five Hundred and Seventy Million Naira) for offences which involve Corruption, Fraud, Obtaining Estacodes and Duty Travel Allowance, DTA for journeys either not undertaken or not in existence.
Others that were arraigned along with Oyo-Ita were: Frontline Ace Global Services Limited; Asanaya Projects Limited; Garba Umar and his companies: Slopes International Limited and Gooddeal Investments Limited. Ubong Okon Effiok was equally arraigned with his companies: U & U Global Services Limited and Prince Mega Logistics Limited.
One of the counts against Oyo-Ita reads: “That you WINIFRED OYO-ITA aka Winifred Ekanett, 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 (Sixty Two Million, Two Hundred and Fifteen Thousand, One Hundred and Sixty Nine Naira) only paid into your Zenith Bank account No: 1001074067 knowing that the said funds formed part of the proceed of an unlawful activity to wit: fraud (purported estacodes, fee 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”.
They all pleaded not guilty to the 18 count charge.
In view of their plea, prosecuting counsel, MS Abubakar, told the court that he is fully aware of the Corona Virus pandemic ravaging the world, and therefore urged the court to place stringent bail terms and conditions that would not undermine the bail system.
“My lord, I hereby confirm and appreciate the fact that there is epidemic worldwide which requires social distancing among other measures; in the light of this, I have discussed with my colleagues at the operation department concerning the conducts and antecedents of the three defendants, all of whom were on administrative bail granted them by the EFCC.
“The information I received from them indicated that the fourth and seventh defendants, to a large extent, have honoured and respected the terms of bail. But regarding the first defendant, our officers had serious problems trying to serve her charge and also bringing her to court for arraignment.
He nevertheless, urged the judge to impose stringent terms and conditions that would ensure the availability of the defendants, particularly the first defendant, Oyo-Ita, whose conducts and antecedents, he said is nothing to write home about.
But counsels to the defendants: Paul Erokoro, SAN; A.C Ananukwa; Ebuka Nwaeze and Okechukwu Ajunwa applied for less stringent bail in the light of the corona virus pandemic.
In his ruling, the judge granted the former HoCSF bail in the sum of N100, 000, 000 (One Hundred Million Naira), two sureties in like sum. One of the surety, he said must be a Civil Servants not below grade level 17 in any Federal Ministry, Agency and Parastatal. The sureties, he further said must be residents of Abuja and one of them must be owner of property worth N100, 000, 000 (One Hundred Million Naira) in the Metropolis of Abuja. The sureties, the judge ruled, should depose to affidavit of means and attach it to the affidavit. Also, the judge ruled that the international passport of the first defendant should be deposited with the Court Registrar.
The fourth and seventh defendant were granted bail in the sum of N50, 000, 000 (Fifty Million Naira) each and two sureties in like sum. One of the sureties must be a Civil Servant not below grade level 17 in any Federal Government Ministries, Agencies and Parastatal and the other surety must be gainful employed and shall deposed affidavit of means stating ability to pay N50, 000, 000 (Fifty Million Naira).
Beside, one of the sureties must own a property in the FCT worth N50, 000, 000, (Fifty Million Naira) while their international passports should be deposited with the Court Registrar.
In the interim, the defendants are to be released to their respective counsels who shall ensure that they report to the office of the EFCC for the next seven days between the hours of 10am and 12 noon, when they are expected to have fulfilled their bail conditions.
In the event that the bail conditions are not met within seven days, the judge further ruled that all the defendants shall be remanded at the EFCC custody until the conditions are met.
The judge thereafter adjourned the matter till May 27, 28 and 2, 3 and 4 of June, 2020 for trial.