The drama in the pension probe notched up yesterday, as senate committee called on the police to investigate the involvement of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, (EFCC) in the pension scam.
The police invitation was against the background of accusations by Toyin Ishola, Assistant Director (Account) and Dr. Suhaibu Teddy also a director in the pension office who accused the EFCC of being involved in illegal withdrawals and transfer of pension funds.
They further urged the committee to direct the EFCC to withdraw from the investigation.
The EFCC bosses, Mr. Ibrahim Lamorde and his predecessor, Mrs. Farida Waziri who were at the senate hearing however agreed to the request and the committee asked the police to take over the investigations.
Some of the other issues to be investigated are the list of EFCC members who were included in the diaspora biometric capture of pensioners in Atlanta, United States.
In her presentation, the former EFCC boss, Waziri while opening up on the rot in the pension scheme accused the banks of conniving with pension fraudsters.
She debunked claims by the banks who had made presentation before the committee, that they reported suspicious accounts to the National Financial Investigative Unit (NFIU) of the EFCC.
“These banks they are not helping this country, they want funds by all cost, whether they are from dead bodies, they do not care, as long as the monies lie in their accounts. Without the banks’ collusion, they could not have stolen these billions, it is the banks and they know it.”
Continuing, she noted, “Recently, before I retired, there was a matter, a bank was sold to another bank and they were trying to steal money and one of our operatives was on that case, but they now transferred N350 million into his account and another N200million into the Abuja branch, when we discovered these monies, within 30 minutes it was withdrawn.
Even loans, I had a case of N40 billion loan given out t someone without collateral, in this country with high poverty level, one man borrowed N40 billion that he was going to sell diesel and come back to pay. He went and sold and bought choice properties in Dubai without collaterals. A local government can do a lot with that money.”
Describing the fraud as monumental, she also revealed to the committee that, “There was a big list of names and the suspect claimed these were all dead people that the money were being paid to and then this was of no use to me. I can compile names within one hour. No address, no certificate of birth, no death certificate. And I said can you go back to the office and get me their local government areas, I had scheduled ten detectives to go and see the grave of this people and then we will assume that if the first ten are all dead, then the whole lots of millions are real and we will find out who and who are collecting the money. At this stage, he never came back and the story was that he was the one who unraveled the frauds.
“There was also this pretty lady and the money that was found in her accounts were mind bugling in the name of her mother, in her name, it was just monumental. I just called her and I looked at her and said you are a mother, how could you be party to this? She said she was used, the men did this and I said that was not an excuse.
“She also said it was an insult for her name to have been included in the biometric capture delegation list that traveled to United States just as she denied knowledge of any monies paid to her in a certain account.”
However, one of the persons whose account was used to siphon pension funds by the task team, Christian Madueke, a pension account officer narrowly escaped arrest at the venue of the hearing after he admitted that over N30 billion was transferred through his account between the year 2007 and 2011.
He told the committee that ten of them in the pension office who have account with the First Bank were being used for that purpose as all their accounts were domiciled with John Yusuf the accountant in charge of the entire account.
He said the money were sent to their accounts without their consent, adding that on receipt of credit alert, they had to go and withdraw it and then hand it over to the accountant who forwarded it to an unknown person.
He said ten of them were summoned in December 2011 by the EFCC. Madueke stated that they kept using him because he could not revolt.
He denied receiving commission for the use of his account, but admitted that he was only given transport fare for the bank operations.
On suggestions by Lamorde and Waziri that Madueke be arrested, the committee chairman however, did not reason along this line, saying that he be allowed to go free since he was a senate witness.