Three directors and six other officials of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) were on Wednesday in Abuja rearraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over alleged N4.5 billion fraud.
They are facing a 42- count charge bordering on corruption, fraud and criminal misappropriation of funds to the tune of N4.55 billion before Justice Toyin Bolaji Adegoke of the Federal High Court.
The defendants are a former Coordinating Director of FIRS, Peter Hena, Mohammed Bello Auta (Director of Finance), Amina Sidi (Finance and Account Department), Umar Aliyu Aduka (Internal Audit), Mbura Mustapha (Deputy Manager), Obi Okeke Malachy (Services Group), Obaje Napoleon Adofu (Head of Budget), Udo-Inyang Effiong Alfred (Officer II) and Benjamin Jiya (Assistant Director).
They are re-arraigned following the transfer of the former trail judge, Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu.
Count one of the charges against them reads:“That you, Peter Hena, Mohammed Bello Auta, Amina Sidi, Umar Aliyu Aduka, Mbura, Mustapha, Obi Okeke Malachy, Obaje Napoleon Adofu, Udo-Inyang Effiong Alfred and Benjamin Jiya while being staff of the Federal Inland Revenue Services (FIRS) between January, 2017 and December 2018 in Abuja within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court conspired together with the other officials of FIRS to conceal funds which are proceeds of unlawful activities to wit: Corruption, Fraud and Criminal Misappropriation of Funds and you thereby committed an offence contrary to section 18 and punishable under section 15(2) (a) and (3) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 ( as amended by Act No. 1 of 2021)”.
The defendants, however pleaded ‘not guilty’ to the charges.
Justice Bolaji granted them bails on the terms earlier offered them by Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu, and fixed September 28, 2021 for commencement of trial.
Ojukwu had, upon their arraignment on Thursday, March 11, 2021,granted the defendants bail in the sum of N100 million each and sureties in like sum.
The sureties who must be Nigerian residing in Abuja with landed property within the jurisdiction of the court, are also to provide evidence of Tax Clearance.
She also ruled that the defendants are to deposit their travelling documents with the court and to seek the permission of the court before travelling out of the country.