EFCC arraigns ex-customs boss, Okafor for alleged N3b fraud
• Quizes Kwara govt, Assembly officials over N400m questionable payments
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) yesterday arraigned one Bridget Okafor, a former Assistant Comptroller General of Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) on a 13-count charge bordering on a N3.336 billion sleaze.He was arraigned before Justice Venchak S. Gaba of a Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court, Kwali, Abuja, but she pleaded not guilty to the charges.
One of the counts reads: “That Bridget Chienyezu Okafor, while in the public service and serving as ACG in charge of finance and revenue in 2015 at Abuja within the jurisdiction of this court, did knowingly acquire a private interest in a contract awarded to Erman Global Energy Engineering Nigeria limited.
It stated that Okafor’s children are directors in the firm to which the NCS paid N89.9 million thereby committing an offence contrary and punishable under section 12 of the Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences (ICPC) Act 2000, among other financial misconducts.Counsel to EFCC, Francis Jirbo, thereafter, asked the court for a date to commence trial to enable the prosecution to present its witnesses.
Defence counsel, Efut Okoi, however, told the court of a pending application before the court seeking bail for the defendant.Arguing the application for bail, Okoi, said: “The defendant has never been arraigned before any court for any alleged offence in her 35 years of service and she was also granted bail by the prosecution. She is a mother and a wife, hence she cannot jump bail.”Okoi, thus, prayed the court to grant the defendant bail on liberal terms, but responding, Jirbo said he had no case challenging the affidavit, as Okafor always honours the EFCC’s invitation.
Justice Gaba thereafter, admitted her bail in the sum of N5 million with two sureties in like sum, who must be within the jurisdiction of the court and who must be civil servants not below Grade Level 14. She was also ordered to submit her international passport with the court’s registrar.
Meanwhile, the EFCC Ilorin Zonal Office has commenced investigation of alleged illegal payments of N400 million to some members of the Kwara State House of Assembly and the State Executive Council before the expiration of their tenures.Specifically, the commission is now quizzing Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Sola Isiaka Gold and Clerk of the State House of Assembly, Kperogi Halimat Jummai, over the alleged payments without due process.