A High Court in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) has ordered the remand of nine civil servants in prison custody till November 8 for creating fictitious names and accounts on the federal payroll.
The suspects, who come from various ministries, were arraigned on a 16-count charge on offenses bordering on conspiracy and theft by dishonesty for creating fictitious names and accounts on the federal payroll, which is punishable under section 97 (1) of the Penal Code Act 1990. The nine suspects pleaded not guilty.
Counsel to the seventh and eighth defendants, Darlington Ozurumba, told the court that his clients applied for a plea bargain with the prosecution.
The prosecution counsel, Muktar Ali Ahmed, told the court that the parties have yet to discuss and agree on the plea bargain.
He therefore asked the court for a date for them to open their case and to enable them to call their witnesses. The counsel then asked the court to remand the suspects in prison custody.
Justice Peter Kekemeke subsequently ordered the suspects to be remanded in prison custody and adjourned the matter to November 8 for the hearing of the bail applications.
Counsels to the defendants told the court that they have filed bail applications and have served all parties.
The suspects were identified as Usman Aliyu Dayo, Osuntope Opeyemi, Johnson Adedokun, Ojeifo Robbert Sylvanus, Oyebade Ebenezer Ayodeji, Florence Olaolu Dada, Olaolu Haruma Dada, Blessing Ejeh and Aderibigbe Isaac Taiwo.
It was gathered that Presidential Initiative Continuous Audit (PICA), which was set up by President Muhammadu Buhari, investigated and tracked the suspects at the Ministry of Water Resources and Ministry of Agriculture.
One of the suspects was alleged to have owned over 200 bank accounts with one Bank Verification Number (BVN) while another owns over 50 houses in Abuja.