THE Economic and Financial Crimes Commission’s (EFFC) case against the embattled former Director of Pension Administration in the Office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation, Dr. Sani Teidi Shuaibu, assumed a new turn yesterday as the anti-graft agency announced its move to seize some property belonging to him at the weekend.
The Commission’s spokesman, Wilson Uwajaren, said six pieces of property belonging to Shuaibu have been placed on interim forfeiture following an order of Justice Adamu Bello of the Federal High Court, sitting in Abuja. The order was given on July 11, 2011. According to Uwajaren, the court had empowered the EFCC to carry out the forfeiture. Some of the property seized include two houses and four filling stations.
Uwajaren also informed that the court granted an order permitting the Chairman of EFCC to seize and retain custody of all the property or assets of persons although not yet charged but found to be connected with the transaction or allegation contained in charge No. FHC/ABJ/CR/28/2011.
With the court granting powers to the Commission to also seize the assets of persons connected with the case, it is not yet clear if and when the EFCC will also move in to seize the property of the other 31 persons being prosecuted alongside Shuaibu in the N4.56 billion alleged scam.
The court granted the order “restraining all persons including persons hereinafter referred to as receivers in the schedules hereto attached, by themselves directly or through another, (whether natural or otherwise) including, but not limited to all parties listed in all the schedules hereto attached, whether or not named in charge No FHC/ABJ/ CR28/2011, that is to say and such other persons yet to be identified, from removing, alienating, disposing of, dealing with or diminishing the value of assets or property being suspected proceeds of crimes or otherwise, held or owned by or in the names of persons suspected of the alleged financial crimes in charge No. FHC/ABJ/CR/28/2011.”
The court also held “that the Executive Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission is hereby permitted to seize and retain custody of all such property or assets of persons listed in the schedules attached to this motion, which assets are suspected proceeds of crime or the value thereof until the final determination of charge No. FHC/ABJ/CR/28/2011.”
According to Uwajaren, the list of Shuaibu’s property/assets are: (a) No. 24, Ahmadu Musa Crescent, Jabi, Abuja; (b) Brefina Hotel at Plot 1106, (beside MTN) warehouse, adjacent to Vines Hotel, Durumi, Abuja; (c) a house at No 1, Shuaibu Close, opposite Governor’s House, Idah; (d) Riba-ile Petroleum Ltd; (e) MRS Ajaka (registered as Riba-Ile Oil Ltd; (f) M.R.S. Idah Station, Idah, registered with Hammo Oil Nigeria; (g) NNPC Mega Station, Idah Junction, Ayingba, registered with Hammo Oil Nig. Ltd; (h) MRS Filling Station at Ganaja, Lokoja; (i) registered with A.Y. Ted Oil Ltd; (j) a mansion at Idah, opposite Federal Polytechnic, Idah; (k) SunTrust Properties Company Ltd; (l) Plot B59, Dawaki Extension Layout, Bwari Area Council, Abuja; (m) an estate of about 10 bungalows, lying and being at Dantata Street, Nyanyan, FCT, Abuja.
He noted that the property, which were seized by the Asset Forfeiture Unit of the Commission, included two choice houses and four filling stations.
“One of the buildings located at No.1 Shuaibu Close, G.R.A. Idah, Kogi State, is an imposing eight-bedroom twin duplex. There are also five units of two-bedroom apartments; two-room security house and a mosque all scattered in the expansive compound.
“The property at the Polytechnic Road, directly opposite Federal Polytechnic, Okenya, Idah, Kogi State, is an unpainted one-storey duplex with multiple sitting rooms and apartment built within.
“The third property that was seized was a non-functional filling station located 100 metres away from Ajaka Police Station. It has a small office building with four rusted and non-functional fuel pumps and a Leister generator in a small generator house,” Uwajaren said.
He added: “At Agbeji in Ayingba, Kogi State, a thriving MRS filling station located at Agbeji along Ayingba Road, a few metres from Confluence Fertiliser Company Limited, was also seized from Dr. Shuaibu.
“An NNPC Mega Station along Lokoja-Enugu High Way, Ayingba and a Texaco filling station with a shopping mall along Ganaja Road, opposite Ibra Petroleum and Petrochemical Limited, Lokoja, Kogi State, were among the property seized from Dr. Shuaibu.”
Shuaibu, Mrs. Phina Ukamaka Chidi and 30 other suspects are facing trial on a 134-count charge bordering on diversion of pension funds, abuse of office, using ghost pensioners to pay N2 million and N3 million into their accounts monthly, and diversion of the same amount through award of fictitious contracts to companies which they manage.
Mrs. Chidi is a former Deputy Director (Finance and Accounts), in the pension office while Aliyu Bello was a Personal Assistant to Shuaibu.
Uwajaren gave the names of the other accused persons and firms as Garba Abdullahi Tahir, Emmanuel Olanipekun, Abdullahi Omeiza, Computer Plaza and Essential Gadget Ventures, Mobis Point Investment Ltd, Obista Enterprises, Shallow Well Ventures, Mof Investment Ltd, Zumba Resources, Pam Investment and Properties Ltd, Moshfad Enterprises, Newgate Projects Ltd, RedWings Energy Ltd, RedWing Procurement Services Ltd and Woodland Industries Nig Ltd.
Others are Nwab Tessy O Enterprises Nigeria, Chris J. Junior Ventures, Uthaka Nigeria Ltd, Bashinta Nigeria Ltd, Haleath Enterprises, Gozinda Enterprises, Omozua Ventures, S.S. Badejo Enterprises, Lopee Ventures, Fafama Oil and Gas Ltd, Fafama Estate Developer Ltd., and Riba-Ile Petroleum.
Meanwhile, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) at the weekend accused the Senate of complicity in the pension scam involving billions of naira.
CISLAC particularly singled out a lawmaker from Kano State of championing ongoing efforts not to expose all those found wanting in the scam.
CISLAC’s Executive Director, Malam Auwal Musa Rafsanjani, at a press conference in Kano claimed that from all indications, the senators are planning to cover up the scam.
He noted: “Feelers indicated that the pension scam involved a wide range of government officials and serving members of the Senate could not be completely exonerated and may be allegedly involved.
“This was further reinforced when the Senate committee indicated that the probe will be pursued further but in closed-door sessions out of the public view, a deviation from the initial method. The Senate also issued a warrant for the arrest of the PRTT chairman for allegedly failing to appear before it.”
Vowing to maintain a sustained campaign to stop moves by the Senate to cover up the pension scam, Rafsanjani urged the Senate committee to ensure that all those indicted in the mismanagement and looting of the pension fund be disclosed and referred to the appropriate agencies for prosecution.
According to findings by the pension task force headed by Alhaji Abdulrasheed Maina, a N151 billion fraud occurred in pension offices across the nation, adding that amongst the senior officials in charge of pension, one was found to have 555 accounts in a single bank.