Nigeria: Pension Scam suspect claims he made $544,000 selling sachet water

EFCC BOSS, Ibrahim Larmode


By Tobi Soniyi

One of the accused persons standing trial in the N14.5 billion Police Pension scam, Mrs. Veronica Ulonma Onyegbula, has told investigators that the $544,632 (about N82 million) found in a company that she had interest in, Ulover International Resources Limited, was realised from selling pure water which the company produces.


This and many more shocking revelations are contained in the proof of evidence attached to the 16-count charge filed against the six suspects by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

A copy of the proof of evidence was obtained by THISDAY.
Others standing trial with Onyegbula are a Permanent Secretary in the Federal Civil Service, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar Kigo; a Director, Chief Esai Dangabar; Alhaji Ahmed Inuwa Wada; John Yakuku Yusufu; and Alhaji Habila Zira.


They had all pleaded not guilty to the charges and had committed themselves to proving their innocence before the court.

When investigators confronted her about the foreign currency in the company's account, Onyegbula, a cashier, stated that the company, situated in Umuahia, the Abia State capital, belonged to her mother and other members of her family.


She said her mother suffered stroke seven years ago and as a result of that she became a member of the board of directors to enable her handle the finances of the company.

She said: “The source of funds as per $544,632.56 in Ecobank belonging to Ulover International Resources is as a result of sale of table water, pure water, straw, polythene bags, dispenser bottles and dispenser fridges.”


She admitted collecting N14 billion on the instruction of her bosses and that she handed over the cash to them. She said she was merely following instruction and that she had no power to question her superiors.

Part of the items recovered by operatives of the anti-graft agency during a search at the woman's home was bank statements belonging to Ulover International Resources Limited.


In a statement she made under caution, the accused stated that in the course of her job at the Police Pension Office, she cashed a total of N14 billion on the instruction of the Permanent Secretary, Kigo, and the Director, Dangabar, via cheques signed by both men.

She also stated that there was a subsisting Federal Government circular which directed that withdrawals from the Police Pension Fund should be by way of e-payment to beneficiaries’ accounts but that despite this circular, her bosses issued cheques in her name with which she accessed funds from the Police Pension Funds domiciled at First Bank of Nigeria Plc.
She also stated that she handed over the monies as soon as she cashed the cheques from the bank.


The accused persons are scheduled to appear before the court again today for their bail applications to be heard.
Currently, they are being remanded in prison custody.

They were arraigned before Justice Abubakar Talba of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court on a 16-count charge of conspiracy, criminal breach of trust and diversion of public fund.


The alleged offences are contrary to sections 97, 115 and 315 Penal Code Act Laws of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja Nigeria, 2007.

The punishment for the offences ranges from six months to 14 years in addition to payment of fines.


The breakdown of the charges showed that the accused persons, as public officers in the service of the government of the federation between January 2009 and June 2011 in Abuja diverted N14,518,567,724 being part of police pension fund from an account domiciled at First Bank Plc.

Between January and December 2009 in Abuja, the accused persons were also alleged to have breached public trust with N8,920,371,822 police pension fund kept at First Bank Plc.
The charge sheet also indicated that between January 2010 and February 2011 also in Abuja, they diverted another N4,739,894,896 police pension fund, while between February and June 2011, N858,301,006 was also diverted from the same source.


They were also accused of stealing N656,559,289 in January 2011, while in March 2009, another N462,963,012 was allegedly diverted from the same sum while working at the police pension office among others.
 The substantive case was adjourned till April 25 for hearing. 


The present government is losing the fight against corruption

The Pension scam is the latest in a run of public office graft