EFCC uncovers fresh N14bn fraud in the pensions office of the Nigeria Police Force
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has discovered a fresh N14bn fraud in the pensions office of the Nigeria Police Force, SUNDAY PUNCH learnt on Saturday evening.
This comes less than two weeks after the Chairman of the Pension Reform Task Force, Abdulrasheed Maina, publicly said corrupt pension officials in the pensions department within the Office of the Head of Service were embezzling over N3.3bn monthly.
Maina particularly said a N28bn police pension fund was found dormant in one account at the police pension office.
Our correspondent gathered from a highly-placed source within the EFCC that this latest fraud was perpetrated by senior officials of the office.
Investigations showed that between January 5, 2009 and May 6, 2011, the officials used the name of the Director of Pensions to draw a total of 13, 874 cheques.
“Hundreds of such cheques are raised daily and endorsed by the cashier of one of the old generation banks for over the counter withdrawal.
“The withdrawals were in flagrant violation of the Federal Government e-payment circular which came into effect on January 1, 2009.
“The monies, once drawn, are shared among the officials,” the source said.
Already, seven of the officials have been arrested by the EFCC for the fraud out of which, SUNDAY PUNCH learnt, five of them were signatories to the account.
Even though the source refused to give our correspondent the name of the suspects, she however said there were three directors and a serving permanent secretary in one of the federal ministries among them.
“Others are top officials of the accounts department of the office. They were picked up in different locations but have been admitted to administrative bail. The commission is however still on the trail of others fingered in the fraud.”
When contacted on Saturday evening to confirm the report, the spokesman of the EFCC, Wilson Uwujaren, said, “Yes, we have made some arrests and the money involved is N14bn. We are charging them to court soon and more details will be made known to the public.”
While reporting the task force’s findings to the Acting Chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission, Ekpo Nta, Maina had said monies were being embezzled monthly via a system of over 100,000 ghost pensioners programmed into a central database, which was discovered when the task force used proprietary software.
“A figure of 258,000 pensioners was submitted to the Budget Office by the ‘cartel’ in the pension office for which N5bn was usually released monthly.
“But out of the N5bn, the task force discovered that the government only needed N1.7bn out of N5bn to pay the 70,657 genuine pensioners.
“We discovered about 71,133 ghost pensioners within the system, for whom the ‘cartel’ behind the fraud had been collecting government money for years. Also, about 44,320 retired persons were discovered never to have been paid their pension since 1968 and 1975. We have brought some of these pensioners on board and they now enjoy their pension,” he said.