The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), on Wednesday, re-arraigned some top officials of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FRIS) and two former directors before Justice Bolaji Olajuwon of the Federal High Court (FHC), Abuja, on fraud allegations.
Justice Olajuwon had fixed June 23 for arraignment when the matter came up before her after counsel to the anti-corruption agency, Ekele Iheanacho, informed the court that the matter was formally before a sister judge, Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu, who had been transfered to the Calabar division.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the EFCC had, on March 11, arraigned Mr Peter Hena, former Coordinating Director; Mohammed Bello Auta, ex-Finance Director, and seven other staff of FIRS before Justice Ojukwu. The others are Aminu Sidi, Umar Aliyu Aduku, Mbura Mustapha, Obi Okeke Malachy, Obaje Napoleon Adofu, Udo-Inyang Effiong Alfred and Benjamin Jiya.
The defendants, who were arraigned on 42-count charge bordering on corruption, fraud and criminal misappropriation of funds running into millions and punishable under the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 (as amended in 2012), were granted bail in the sum of N100 million with a surety in the like sum. Ojukwu had further ruled that the surety must be resident within the jurisdiction of the court and must swear to affidavit of means commensurate with the bail sum, among others.
Taking their plea before Justice Olajuwon, the defendants pleaded not guilty to all the counts and their counsel prayed the court to allow them to continue to enjoy the earlier bail as granted by Ojukwu since none of the defendants had breached any of the bail terms.
Counsel to the EFCC, Iheanacho, did not oppose the defence application.The judge, then, admitted them to the bail terms as earlier granted.She adjourned the matter untill Sept. 28 for trial to begin. (NAN)