How Oyo-Ita, Former HoS Laundered Funds Through Her Firms – EFCC

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One the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission’s (EFCC)’s witnesses, Mr Hamma-Adama Bello, on Tuesday appeared before the Federal High Court (FHC), Abuja and gave insights into how the immediate-past Head of Service (HoS),  Mrs. Winifred Oyo-Ita used her companies to launder government’s funds while in service.

Bello, who is a Chief Superintendent of EFCC and Head, Special Investigation Team (SIT), told the High Court judge, Justice James Omotosho, how the frauds were perpetrated by Oyo-Ita  when testifying as the  8th prosecution witness (PW8).

Led in evidence by the EFCC’s counsel, Farouk Abdullahi, the PW8 said his team received an intelligence from the office of the anti-graft agency’s chairman sometimes in 2019 which bordered on the activities of the 1st defendant (Oyo-Ita) and the minister then in the Ministry of Special Duties and Inter-Governmental Affairs where she was serving.

Bello clarified: “The 1st defendant was the permanent secretary then, and other staff that include Mr Ubong, the 7th defendant.

“The team developed intelligence and started the investigation. In the course of the investigation, we called for documents.

“The nature of the intelligence was such that the 1st and 7th defendants and a host of others were using their office to get contracts for companies they incorporated or have interest in”, he added.

According to him, the team invited the former HoS and her Special Assistant, Ubong Effiok, based on documents relating to the intelligence report.

The PW8 explained that the team had an interaction with them and in the cause of the interaction, Mr Garba Umar, the 4th defendant, was identified as a person of interest for the investigation and he was invited during which the anti-graft agency’s officials quizzed him,

Bello said that it was discovered that the 1st defendant was the beneficial owner of two companies; Frontline Ace Global Services Limited and Asanaya Projects Ltd and that she also had interest in Asanaya Farms Ltd.

He further told the court that investigation showed that Oyo-Ita maintained two accounts in Zenith Bank Plc for Frontline Ace Global Services Limited and that it was discovered that the former HoS had severally sat as chairman, CEO of Frontline Ace Global Services Ltd, during which she issued both resolutions to open the said accounts.

The PW8 expatiated: “Having analysed these two board resolutions issued by 1st defendant, the team realised that the 1st defendant is the beneficial owner of the accounts.

“We carried out a careful analysis of the account she was closing and came to a conclusion that about N124 million has passed through this account.

“We realised that there were payments in 2010 from Federal Ministry of Power into the account and other agencies like Power Holding Company of Nigeria (when it was a government’s agency).

“These payments were from government coffers while she was serving as a deputy director in the same ministry”, Bello added

It would be recalled Oyo-Ita and her Special Assistant, Ubong Effiok; Frontline Ace Global Services Limited; Asanaya Projects Ltd; Garba Umar and his companies, Slopes International Ltd and Gooddeal Investments Ltd all as her co-defendants were, on January 18 this year, arraigned by the anti-graft agency on an 18-count charge of N3 billion graft.

Other defendants in the suit filed by the EFCC include U & U Global Services Ltd, belonging to Mr Effiok, and Prince Mega Logistics Ltd, which were arraigned for alleged fraud in relation to duty tour allowance (DTA), estacodes, conference fees and receiving kickbacks on contracts.

The defendants all pleaded not guilty to the charge.

Following their claim of innocence, Justice Omotosho adjourned the matter until January 26 for continuation of the trial.

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