A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja on Tuesday resumed the trial of Ibrahim Ahmed Mazangari, Muhammed Sani Sulaiman, Fatima Mazangari and a serving youth corps member, Yerima Tsojan, who allegedly collected N23 million pension payments, in a pension scam that was carried out on the Federal Government to the tune of N1.2 billion. The Sun reported.
The court heard yesterday how a NYSC youth corps member allegedly collected N23 million pension payment.
Saleh Yerima Tsojon, a former corps member, was accused of the alleged fraud when he was doing the compulsory one year national service in Calaber, Cross River State.
Led in evidence by prosecuting counsel, O. A. Atolagbe, the witness, Roukayya Ibrahim, an investigator with the EFCC and member of the Pension fraud team, told the court that the fraud was uncovered in 2010 while the head of service pension board was being probed.
“We received intelligence of the syndicate operating in Kaduna being allegedly led by Hajia Fatima Mazangari, and we immediately commenced investigations,” she said.
The accused persons, said they used two companies – Xangee Technologies Limited and Century Construction Company Limited, to perpetrate the fraud.
Speaking to the court, she said Xangee Technologies Limited, which is owned by Mazangari was offered a biometric contract allegedly by former HoS, Steve Oronsaye, to regularize names of pensioners on the payroll, but allegedly smuggled in names of fake pensioners (including his own name), and collected unearned pension.
“Investigations revealed that Xangee, an IT firm was paid about N153 million for the biometric contract, but we found out that the process of awarding the contract did not follow due process as there was no contract bidding, yet payment was made,” she said.
The second accused person, according to Ms. Roukayya, used three variants of his name to open three different pension accounts, to which a total of about N24 million of pension payments at different times were paid; the money was afterwards withdrawn and handed over to Ms. Fatima.
“During investigations, it was also discovered that Saleh Yerima Tsojon, who at the time was serving his mandatory NYSC service in Calabar, was receiving pension payment which amounted to about N23 million,” She added.
The four accused persons are being prosecuted by the EFCC, on a 29-count charge bordering on conspiracy, and collecting by false pretence.
They are alleged to have obtained N1.2 billion from the Federal Government purporting same to be monthly pension payable to M. S. Suleiman, Saleh Yerima Tsojon, Isah U. Adamu, Daniel Mikano, and Abdulahi Garba Musa who were falsely held out as pensioners, by inserting their names in the pensioners’ payroll.
The Presiding Judge, Justice Abubakar Talba has fixed today for further hearing.