N3bn Fraud: Oyo-Ita, Allies Diverted Public Funds to Private Companies, EFCC Witness Tells Court

Hamma Bello, a prosecution witness, in the trial of Winifred Oyo-Ita, former head of service (HoS), has told a federal high court in Abuja how the first defendant and her subordinates allegedly diverted public funds into their private companies.

Oyo-Ita (first defendant) is being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) alongside Ugbong Okon Effiok (seventh defendant), Garba Umar (fourth defendant), her special assistants, and six companies: Frontline Ace Global Services Limited; Asanaya Projects Limited; Slopes International Limited; U and U Global Services Ltd; Prince Mega Logistics Ltd and Good Deal Investments on 18-count charges bordering on misappropriation, official corruption, money laundering and criminal diversion of funds to the tune of over N3 billion.

While being led in evidence on Thursday by Faruk Abdullahi and H.M. Mohammed, prosecution counsel, Bello told James Omotosho, the presiding judge, that Oyo-Ita used Slopes International Limited and Good Deal Investments Limited, fifth and sixth defendants, respectively, to fraudulently award government contracts to herself through Umar.

He said the first entry transaction of Good Deal Investment Ltd in February 2019 showed that money was paid into its Zenith Bank account to the tune of N42,748,201.47.

The witness said Umar incorporated the company with Oyo-Ita’s full knowledge.

“We called for the account statements of these two companies, upon analyzing them, we realized he (Umar) was paid several sums of money from the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing where he is an employee,” Bello told the court.

“And upon interviewing the fourth defendant, he admitted that he was also a contractor. He also admitted to have paid the first defendant on several occasions from the proceeds of the transaction.”

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He further disclosed that on April 27, 2019, a transfer of N20, 227,1 42 was made in the name of one Ibrahim Madu to the Zenith Bank account of Asanaya Projects Ltd.

He added that the mandate card of the account bears the signature and photo of the seventh defendant, Effiok.

The witness also said the seventh defendant incorporated Asanaya Projects Ltd in his name with the knowledge of the first defendant, noting that approvals were granted while payments were made to the seventh defendant either through his personal account or to the account of the company.

“The seventh defendant upon interview, confirmed he never travelled for most of the funds he received and that the first defendant was aware and benefitted on several occasions from the funds. The account of U and U Global Services Limited was also opened by the seventh defendant,” he said.

“In summary, from 2015 to 2018, U and U Global Limited received several payments in the form of Duty Tour Allowances and estacodes.

“Sometimes, payments from the federal government were made directly to the account, for instance, on March 24, 2016, he received N40,313,453.58. This particular payment was from the federal government.”

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