A witness in the ongoing trial former Kaduna State Pension Bureau consultant, Ibrahim Mohammed Sodangi, presented startling evidence on how the consultant smuggled his name into the pension payroll and started drawing benefits like a bona fide pensioner.
Michael Wetkas, an operative of the EFCC, while being led in evidence by prosecution counsel Sylvanus Tahir, told the court that, in the course of investigation into the matter, analysis of the account opening package and statements of account furnished the Commission by Keystone Bank and First City Monument Bank revealed that Sodangi used his accounts to receive funds under the guise of being a pensioner of the Kaduna State government.
The investigation was triggered by a petition written by a group named, “movement for better future”, which alleged massive fraud in the Kaduna State Pension Bureau. The petitioners alleged that the then management of the Bureau conspired with the consultant to steal pension fund through enrolment of ghost pensioners.
They identified some of the ghost pensioners to include “Mohammed Ibrahim (Keystone bank), Mohammed S. (FCMB) and Abdullahi Shehu (Access bank).
Wetkas affirmed that documents received from the banks, and critical examination of the pension payroll revealed that, indeed, Mohammed Ibrahim and Mohammed S were listed as pensioners and monies paid into their accounts from Kaduna State Pension Fund.
He further disclosed that analysis revealed that both names belonged to the same person-the accused. “We confronted him with our findings which revealed that between 2007 and 2013 his account in Keystone bank received N38,684,919.09k while his FCMB account within same period received N27,736,657.23 Aggregate sum that went into him was about N66,471,571.01”, Wetkas stated.
The witness said when the accused was confronted, he admitted making the payments into his personal accounts but insisted his name was enrolled by one Late Alhaji Bala Adamu who was Director of Finance of the State Pension Bureau.
Sodangi claimed he had two sets of cheque books for the accounts while late Adamu was the one making the withdrawals.
However, the operative said the claim was refuted as the instruments used for withdrawals were all written and signed by Sodangi.
“He made withdrawals through ATM card”, Wetkas stated.
Further evidence as revealed by the witness showed that Sodangi who claimed he was engaged through Adav System Limited to computerize the Kaduna State Pension payroll could not furnish his engagement letter. He admitted he had never been a staff of any ministry or parastatal in Kaduna State but an indigene of Katsina State, yet he paid himself pension.
“So far he was able to pay N10million of the total sum which was registered with the exhibit keeper of the Commission”, Wetkas said.
Prosecution counsel, Tahir, tendered the petition which the court admitted as exhibit 6. Justice Haet Khobo thereafter adjourned the case to June 20 and 21, 2016 for a trial within trial to determine the voluntariness or otherwise of the statements made by the defendant based on the claims of the defence counsel that his client did not make his statement voluntarily.
The accused was arraigned in 2014 and the Commission has so far presented five witnesses.