A N1 billion bribe-for-protection allegation reminiscent of the Otedola-Farouk scandal during the probe into fuel subsidy payments by the House of Representatives last year, is currently rocking the Senate Committee on Establishment and Public Service chaired by Senator Aloysius Etok from Akwa Ibom State.
The latest scandal, which emanates from a former director, Pensions Account in the Office of the Head of Service (HoS) of the Federation, Dr Teidi Shuaibu, who is presently being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), indicates that the pension thief allegedly gave N1 billion to Senator Etok “for protection and to give him ‘a soft landing.’”
It would be recalled that in 2012, the Senate mandated a joint committee comprising Establishment and Public Service and States and Local Governments Administration to investigate the administration of pension funds in the country.
The committee came out with shocking revelations on how civil servants had been siphoning pension funds to the tune of N159 billion although the committee ran into troubled waters with head of the Presidential Task Force Team on Pension Reforms, Abdulrasheed Maina on the exact amount that was missing.
However, Mr. Shuaibu, in a petition he wrote to the EFCC dated 30 September, 2013 stated that in the course of the committee’s probe, he gave Etok N1billion to shield him from prosecution. To perfect the deal, Teidi affirmed in his petition that the senator received N400 million in cash and equipment.
The petition, which was signed on his behalf by his lawyer and personal assistant, Mr T. E. Okocha and Dr R. Afuzie, respectively, Mr. Shuaibu insisted that the senator initially collected N50 million and another $200, 000 and later took delivery of cars, landed property and industrial equipment to scuttle the probe by the joint committee.
Furthermore, Mr. Shuaibu revealed that the senator requested and got two brand new Mercedes Benz cars, including a 2010 Model Coupe, a D8 Caterpillar, a 33-litre capacity petroleum tanker and an additional $200,000 for his oversight function.
The petition said that in return, Senator Etok was alleged to have persuaded Mr. Shuaibu to attend the Senate public hearing, which held last July, with a promise that he was going to use him as a prosecution witness in the attempt at nailing pension thieves.
But the senator, who is facing an uphill task of returning to the upper chamber of the National Assembly in 2015 as Governor Godswill Akpabio is reportedly eyeing the Akwa Ibom North-West/Ikot Ekpene Senatorial seat occupied by Etok, has dismissed the allegation, insisting that since the matter was with the anti-graft commission, he is awaiting its “invitation.”
He also described the allegation as baseless, ridiculous and laughable, adding that it was “a calculated political attempt coming from certain quarters to tarnish my image.
“I read the newspaper publication but I would not want to say anything more than the fact that the allegation is not true. I don’t want to make any further comment since they claimed that the petition is now before the EFCC.
“I am only awaiting a formal invitation from the anti-graft body since the petition is before them. I will make myself available for questioning whenever the EFCC deems it fit to invite me. But the allegation border on cheap lies and it is baseless, ridiculous and laughable.”
Mr. Shuaibu is standing trial for his alleged involvement in an N18.3 billion pension fund scam alongside others charged with similar offence.