Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Gombe zonal office, yesterday arraigned four persons before Justice Nathan Musa of an Adamawa State High Court.
The four accused, Lucious Mayo, Elisie Yaduwa, Elisha Yahaya and Rhoda Samson, were arraigned on a nine count charge bordering on conspiracy, obtaining money by false pretence, diversion, inflation of contract price, forgery and refusal to make full disclosure of assets.
Acting Head, Media and Publicity, EFCC, Tony Orilade, said: “Mayo is alleged to have, as Executive Secretary of the state’s Christian Pilgrims Welfare Board, connived with Yaduwa, the Director of Finance and Account; Yahaya, Accountant, and Samson, cashier, to divert to personal use, about N132 million out of N347, 848,220 only released in 2016 by the Adamawa State government to cater for the pilgrimage exercise of Christians from the state.”
They are also alleged to have collected and diverted about N2.54 million from four “self-sponsored” pilgrims, who paid the money into the Board’s account. Further investigations also revealed that in 2016, Mayo sold registration forms to 1,569 intending pilgrims at N10,000 each, amounting to N15,690,000.
“This was in spite of the fact that many pilgrims were sponsored by the Adamawa government. The money was also never remitted either to the Board’s account, or the state’s Revenue Board account.”
It was also revealed that the Head of Medicals received N3,5000,000 for drug procurement, but was expressly instructed to return N1,5000,000 only to the Director of Finance, without being given treasury receipt.
A fictitious payment voucher for N3,500,000 was later raised by the accountant to cover up the fraudulent diversion.
Orilade added: “Another N26.34 million was obtained by the first defendant from the intending pilgrims under the false pretence that the money was to be used for upgrading their Basic Travelling Allowance (BTA) from minimum seat of $500 to maximum seat of $750 each, but instead, diverted to his personal use.
An investigation also shows that the Board issued a contract for the supply of wrappers (uniforms) at N2,500 to each pilgrim. But Mayo inflated the price by N1,000 each, generating N1 million and diverted same to his personal use.”
The accused pleaded “not guilty” to the charges when they were read to them. Justice Musa granted bail to the first defendant in the sum of N100 million and one surety in like sum, with landed property within the jurisdiction of the court or a Permanent Secretary in the Civil Service. The second, third and fourth defendants were granted bail in the sum of N50 million and one surety each in like sum.