FROM the unfolding scenarios in the Federal Civil Service, the composers of the Nigerian National Anthem might intuitively had police pensioners in mind in the verse: “The labour of our heroes past shall never be in vain…”
But they may not have imagined or expected that their compatriots, especially those employed by the state to look into their post-service welfare, could be the same persons the state would prosecute for allegedly cornering their lifetime savings and entitlements.
And yesterday, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) before the court took the first step to ensure that the indicted persons pay for their alleged crimes.
Consequently, six top officials of the Federal Pension Office, who allegedly turned the sweat of the police pensioners into a goldmine while the senior citizens languished in pains, were brought before an Abuja High Court to account for their alleged misdeeds.
The court, which heard how the officials abused their offices, ordered that the Permanent Secretary in the Federal Pension Office, Atiku Abubakar Kigo and five others be kept in prison custody until their bail applications were properly made.
The EFCC had narrated through a 16-count charge how Kigo connived with Mr. Esai Dangabar, Ahmed Inuwa Wada, John Yakubu Yusufu, Sani Habila Zira and Mrs. Veronica Ulonma Onyegbula, to defraud the police pension scheme of N32.8 billion.
The court rejected the efforts of the accused persons to apply orally for bail and instead issued the remand order on them.
Kigo and his co-travellers, according to the EFCC, engaged themselves in criminal activities, bordering on breach of trust and diversion of the N32.8 billion under their care.
The EFCC said the alleged offences are punishable under Section 97 of the Penal Code Act, CAP. 532, Laws of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, 2007.
The looted fund kept with First Bank of Nigeria Plc were criminally allegedly diverted by the accused persons when the money was under their supervision.
All the accused persons pleaded not guilty to each of the 16 counts but their counsel, Chief Adegboyega Solomon Awomolo (SAN), prayed the court to remand them in the custody of the EFCC because the commission has better facilities than the prisons.
But the court declined their requests even though the EFCC’s counsel, Rotimi Jacobs, did not oppose the move.
The trial judge, Talba Mohammed, ordered that all the accused persons be remanded in Kuje Prison pending the hearing of their bail application fixed for April 3, 2012 and fixed May 28, 2012, for trial.
The EFCC told the court that the accused had between January 2009 and June 2011 at Abuja Division of the High Court agreed to do “an illegal act, to wit: Criminal breach of trust by public officers in respect of the sum of N14.5 billion and that the same act was done in pursuance of the agreement among you, and you thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 97 of the Penal Code Act Cap. 532, Laws of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, Nigeria 2007.”
As public officers in the federation, who were entrusted with certain property, including N8.92 billion, which formed part of Nigeria Police Pension funds in the account domiciled at the First Bank of Nigeria, the EFCC said the accused committed criminal breach of trust in respect of the said property, and thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 315 of the Penal Code Act.
The commission added that between January 2010 and February 2011 in Abuja, the accused as public officers entrusted with N4.739 billion, stole the money, which sum formed part of the Nigerian Police Pension funds in an account domiciled at the First Bank of Nigeria Plc. By their action, the EFCC said the accused committed criminal breach of trust in respect of the said property, an offence punishable under section 315 of the Penal Code Act. Cap. 532, Laws of the FCT, Nigeria 2007.