By Patrick Aigbokhan
The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), has arraigned five former senior civil servants of the Ministry of the Niger Delta Affairs for stealing over N670m belonging to the Federal Government.
The five were arraigned before Justice Huseini Baba of the Federal Capital Territory High Court in Abuja, on Wednesday.
The senior officers included a former director in the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs and Nasarawa State Peoples Democratic Party candidate in the 2015 governorship election, Mohammed Agabi; ex-deputy director in the ministry, Akpore Okeroghene; a former director and Agabi’s successor, Abibu Ayinla; ex-deputy director, Idowu Adewale, and a former deputy director, Ntu Ngozi.
They were arraigned on 47 counts which included stealing and fraudulently receiving money stolen from the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs and converting such to their own use.
> Agabi, Okereoghene, Ayinla, Adewale and Ngozi were listed as 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th accused persons respectively.
The offences contravened Section 13 are punishable under Section 68 of the Corrupt Practices Act 2000.
The accused pleaded not guilty when the charges were read to them.
Rotimi Ojo and Anthony Ekuma, counsel for the accused persons, filed separate applications for their bails.
Mr. Paul Bassi, prosecuting counsel and Chief Legal Officer for ICPC did not oppose their bail applications.
Justice Baba granted the accused persons bail in the sum of N10m each with one surety each who must be at least a Deputy Director in any Federal Ministry in Abuja.
They must also submit their international passport.
He adjourned the case till October 7 for the commencement of trial.
The ICPC had, a few weeks ago, started a clampdown on very wealthy civil servants suspected to own properties that their incomes cannot justify.
The commission had seized landed properties that belonged to three officers of the Niger Delta Ministry because they were “excessive of their” emoluments.
The commission had also explained that the properties were seized in pursuant to Section 45 (4) a – b of the Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Act 2000.
“Whereas the commission is investigating a matter involving some officials of the Niger Delta ministry, wherein certain movable and immovable properties owned by the said staff are in issue. And whereas the commission is of the opinion based on the aforementioned investigation that these movable and immovable properties owned by these people who are staff of the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs are excessive, having regard to their present emoluments and all other relevant circumstances,” the ICPC had said.