By Vivian Okejeme, Abuja
The Federal Government, yesterday, arraigned a former Head of Service of the Federation (HoSF), Mrs Winifred Oyo-Ita and eight others on charges of corruption and money laundering to the tune of over N462million.
The Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) arraigned Oyo-Ita alongside Garba Umar, Ubong Effiok and six other companies on an 18 count charge bordering on money laundering.
When the charges were read out to them, before Justice Taiwo Taiwo at the federal high court, Abuja, they pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Sequel to not guilty plea, their counsel made an oral bail application.
In his ruling, Justice Taiwo admitted Oyo-Ita to bail of N100million and two sureties in like sum.
The judge ruled that one of the two sureties must be a grade level 17 Officer in the federal government employment or any of its agencies and must have a landed property worth the bail bond.
The second surety must show evidence of being gainfully employed and has the capability of paying N100M in the event that the defendant jumps bail.
The court further ordered that she deposited her international passport with the registrar of the court and shall be reporting to the prosecuting counsel at the EFCC’s Office for seven days, effective from March 24, when she is expected to perfect her bail.
Justice Taiwo however, admitted Mr Garba Umar and Mr Ubong Effiok to bail in the sum of N50million and two sureties each in like sum with other conditions similar to Oyo-ita
The EFCC in their charge sheet claimed that the former Head of Service in count one used her position as Deputy Director in the Federal Ministry of Power in 2010 and diverted the sum of N20M into her personal company, Front line Ace Global Services Limited contrary to section 14 of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act 2004.
The prosecution agency also alleged that Oyo-Ita, have between April and May, 2010 while as Deputy Director in the Federal Ministry of Power, converted to herself the sum of N26.4M through a company allegedly linked to her in counts two and three of the charge.
Counts four and five, further indicated that the defendant also converted the sum of N66.9M being public funds under the guise of purported estacodes for journeys not embarked on contrary to section 15 of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act 2011.
Also, counts six and seven the EFCC accused her of taken possession of another N45M along with her former Personal Assistant, Mr Ubong Effiok, under the guise that the money was for conference fees, estacodes and ticket fees as well as Duty Tour Allowance (DTA) for journeys not made.
In addition, in counts eight and nine, the federal government accused Oyo-Ita along with Umar, a civil servant, of diverting the sum of N63M as part payment for a contract paid to Gooddeal Investment Limited, allegedly owned by Umar.
So also, count 18, Mrs Oyo-Ita was accused of failure to make full disclosure of her assets in the Assets Declaration Form of August 12, 2019, which she filled at the EFCC’s office, Abuja.
Meanwhile, Justice Taiwo ordered that the defendants be released to their respective lawyers pending the perfection of their bail.
The court held that the decision was made in view of the Corona Virus pandemic in the country, adding that lives should not be put to unnecessary danger.
In the meantime, the trial is adjourned till May, 27 and 28 as well as June 2,3 and 4, 2020.