By Sadiq Mohammed
The Gombe Zonal Office of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on Wednesday, March 18, 2020, arraigned the ex- Accountant General of the Bauchi State government, Yusuf Ibrahim Gokaru and the State Director of Finance, Ibrahim Muhammed Lele.
Tony Orilade, acting head, media & publicity for the agency stated in a statement that the do were arraigned before Justice A.H Suleiman of the Bauchi State High Court on 42 count-charges, bordering on obtaining by false pretence, conspiracy, money laundering and concealment of the source and origin of the money.
The arrest and arraignment of the defendants was sequel to a petition from Bauchi State Government, dated August 26, 2019.
Gokaru and Lele were alleged to have connived and used their official positions as Accountant General of Bauchi State government and Director Finance of the same office to obtain the sum of N258, 363, 200, (Two Hundred and Fifty Eight Million, Three Hundred and Sixty Three Thousand, Two Hundred Naira) only for their personal use.
The money was from the World Bank as an assistance to Bauchi State Government under the programme of State Education Programme Investment Project (SEPIP), instead of using the fund for the project, the defendants allegedly concealed the source of the money by transferring from the Bauchi State Consolidated Naira Account, domiciled at Polaris Bank to a Unity Bank, suspected to be their personal accounts
Operatives of the Commission in the course of investigation, recovered more than N80 million, prompting the EFCC to charged the defendants to Court.
One of the charge reads: “That you, Yusuf Ibrahim Gokaru and Ibrahim Muhammed Lele on or about the 16th day of August, 2018 at Bauchi, Bauchi State within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, with intent to defraud, did obtain money to the tune of Two Hundred Million Naira (N200,000,000.00) properties of Bauchi State Government with assistance from World Bank by falsely representing that the said sum was to be used for State Education programme Investment project (SEPIP) which Pretence you knew to be false and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 1 (1) (a) of the Advance Fee Fraud and other Fraud Related Offences Act, 2006 and Punishable under Section 1 (3) of the same Act”.
The defendants pleaded not guilty to all the 42 count-charge preferred against them by the EFCC.
The prosecution counsel, A .Y Muntaka, applied for a trial date to enable him assemble his witnesses and necessary documents to be tendered as exhibits.
But the defence counsel, Babangida Muhammad, filed for bail application of the defendants.
Justice Suleiman, while adjourning the case till April 28, 2020, for trial, granted the defendants bail in the sum of N10 million each and two sureties in like sum. He said the sureties must be of grade level 14 and must own landed property within GRA in Bauchi and to deposit same at the Registry of the court.
Additional report by Emmanuel Udom