Dangabar’s Death Stalls Trial In N14bn Police Pension Fraud Case

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The trial of former director in the Police Pension Office, Mr Esai Dangabar, suffered a setback on Thursday following his death.

This came as the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) filed a motion before Justice Hussein Baba Yusuf of the Federal High Court sitting in Maitama, Abuja.

In the suit, the anti-graft agency sought to amend the charges in the criminal breach of trust and fraud to the tune of N14 billion in the police pension scheme, following the death of Dangabar who was the principal defendant and was facing charges alongside others.

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At the resumed, proceedings were stalled when the lead defence counsel, Adegboyega Awomolo, announced to the court the death of Dangabar whom he said died on July 24, 2019.

In buttressing his point, Awomolo submitted the Garki Hospital death certificate of the defendant to the court and appreciated the concern and the accommodating spirit of the presiding judge, since the commencement of the trial.

“I respectfully appreciate his lordship for always giving the first defendant permission to travel for his treatment before his death. I pray for long life for his lordship,” he stated.

In his reaction, the prosecution counsel A. Atolagbe described Dangabar’s death as unfortunate and extended his condolences to his family.

He, therefore, prayed the court for more time to amend the charges since the deceased was no longer alive.

Atolagbe said, “My lord, I have seen the death certificate of the first defendant. It’s quite unfortunate.

“We will be asking for sometimes to regularise the charges since the deceased is no longer involved.”

Justice Hussein who also extended his sympathy to the family of the deceased and adjourned the case until December 5, for necessary amendments to the charges.

EFCC Re-arraigns 7 Over N30 billion Police Pension Scam

Seven former police pension officials have been re-arraigned before Justice Hussain Baba of an Abuja High Court on an amended 20 counts charge of criminal breach of trust and conspiracy involving the sum of N29.8 billion.

They had earlier been arraigned before Justice Mohammed Talba who sentenced one of the accused persons, Mr John Yusufu, to a two year jail term with an option of N750,000 fine which he promptly paid.

The fraud was perpetrated between January 2009 and June 2011.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had alleged that the accused persons conspired and sequentially withdrew money from the Police Pension Fund (PPF) in an account domiciled at First Bank of Nigeria and shared it amongst themselves.

One of the defendants; Inuwa Wada, was also alleged to have collected N18 million from Unity Bank Plc, as his reward for retaining the Police Pension Account with the bank.

One of the accused persons, Mrs Uzoma Attang was however absent from the court while her former colleagues who were present were re-arraigned.

Mrs. Attang who is a serving director of finance and accounts in the Federal Civil Service, had previously escaped trial before the Code of Conduct Tribunal last September where she was scheduled to be tried on allegations of acquisition of landed properties both in Abuja and Lagos whose value her salary, as a director in the Federal Civil Service, could not have legitimately acquired.

Others docked alongside Mrs Attange are Esai Dangabar, Atiku Kigo, Ahmed Inuwa-Wada, Mrs Veronica Onyegbula, Sani Zira and Christian Madubuike.

Count one of the amended charge alleged that the accused persons conspired and agreed, between January 2008 and June 2011, to do an illegal act of criminal breach of trust in respect of the sum of N20.155 billion, an offence punishable under Section 97 of the Penal Code Act, CAP 532, laws of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, Nigeria 2007.

The defendants pleaded not guilty to the entire counts of the charge and the court subsequently fixed their trial for 3rd and 4th of June, 2012.

Justice Hussain Baba also ordered that the bail granted the accused persons by the former judge should continue to run so far as they had complied with the bail conditions.

One of the arraigned official went violent as she left the court premises and attacked a photo journalist who tried to take her photograph.