Alleged N69bn fraud: EFCC arrests ex NSITF boss, Olojeme
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has arrested Dr. Ngozi Olojeme, the Deputy Chairman, Finance Committee of the Goodluck Jonathan Campaign Organisation in the 2015 presidential election, The PUNCH has learnt.
The suspect, who served as the Chairman of the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund from 2009 to 2015, was, in June, declared wanted for allegedly diverting N69bn from the agency.
Olojeme, who is also the widow to Obuah, the late Chief Security Officer to Jonathan, was said to have fled the country shortly after her sacking by President Muhammadu Buhari in 2015.
The suspect, who was also the convener of the Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme sub-committee on Public Works and Road Rehabilitation, finally reported at the EFCC on Monday after which she was detained.
A detective at the commission stated, “After months of running, Mrs. Olojeme finally turned herself in. She is currently being detained and we have identified most of her properties.”
The NSITF, which was headed by Olojeme, is a social insurance scheme designed to provide compensation to employees who suffer from occupational accidents or diseases in the line of duty.
The organisation is funded by deducting one per cent from all government and private sector employees enrolled in the scheme.
However, according to documents made available to The PUNCH, Olojeme and some directors in the company allegedly diverted billions of naira, including funds meant for the payment of allowances of its staff as well as compensation for contributors.
Trouble started for Olojeme shortly after her sacking by Buhari in 2015.
The EFCC subsequently received a petition alleging that over N50bn from the Employee Compensation Scheme fund, paid by Ministries Departments and Agencies and private companies, as well as another N18bn being the contributions of the Federal Government as take-off grants to the NSITF, was allegedly mismanaged and diverted into the personal accounts of Olojeme and Umar Abubakar, the Managing Director of the NSITF.
The EFCC immediately set up a team of detectives to look into the allegations.
The commission looked into the bank accounts of the NSITF and allegedly discovered suspicious transactions and diversion of funds.
Some funds were said to have been traced to the accounts of some consultants and contractors who were alleged to be mainly fronts for Olojeme and other directors in the NSITF.
Several directors and contractors were invited to explain their own side of the story, many of whom have since returned funds to the EFCC.
An EFCC report, made available to our correspondent, read in part, “It was discovered that the NSITF accounts in First Bank of Nigeria and other banks have witnessed a total turnover of over N62,358,401,927 between 2012 and 2015 from the Employee Compensation Scheme contributions.
“That out of the N62bn, the Federal Government contributed N13,600,000,000 while the sum of N48,758,401,927.80 was contributed by the private sector. That there were several payments to individuals and companies from the NSITF bank accounts for purported contracts or consultancy services.
“That some individuals and companies that received these payments in turn transferred parts of the funds directly to the NSITF officials while others transferred huge sums to bureau de change operators who changed them to dollars.”
The report adds that Olojeme sent her account officer at FBN to collect $48m from some NSITF contractors through a BDC operator.
It adds, “That through this process, Dr. Ngozi Olojeme, the then NSITF board chairman, has collected a total sum of $48,485,127 from Mr. Chuka Eze (her account officer at FBN) which cash he collected on her behalf being the dollar equivalent of money paid to BDCs by NSITF contractors.”
The EFCC had, on November 23, 2017, arraigned some of Olojeme’s accomplices, including Umar Abubakar, Henry Sambo, Adebayo Aderibigbe, Chief Richard Uche and Aderemi Adegboyega, before Justice Silvanus Orji of the Federal Capital Territory High Court, sitting in Apo, Abuja, on 26 counts bordering on conspiracy, abuse of office and illegal diversion of public funds.
They all pleaded not guilty to the offences and were granted bail. The matter was adjourned till February 5, 2018 for commencement of trial. Punch