The trial of five persons, implicated in the fraudulent diversion of about $4 million of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria in Nigeria, began on June 12, 2018 before Justice O.O. Goodluck of the Federal Capital Territory, FCT High Court, Maitama.
The defendants – Abimbola Abioye, Wuraola Adebayo, Zubairu Ibrahim, Faturiti Jacob and Azeez Aderemi, are facing a six-count charge that borders on criminal conspiracy, forgery and embezzlement of the grant granted by the Geneva-based agency.
It will be recalled that The Global Fund had in March 2016 suspended payments to Nigeria’s AIDS agency, over the diversion of about $3.8 million allegedly stolen by workers and consultants. The grant was also to ensure the establishment of a National Health Information System, a service that could have aided delivery of quality health care services in Nigeria.
The Global Fund had petitioned the EFCC alleging that, “during a recent routine check by the Office of the Inspector General, Global Fund, it was discovered that from 2010 to 2014, the suspects who are employees of Department of Planning, Research and Statistics (DPRS) Federal Ministry of Health conspired among themselves to receive and systematically embezzle the sum amount through the use of fictitious invoices, receipts of hotel stays, air flight tickets and other instruments to access and divert the fund for their own personal gains”.
They all pleaded “not guilty” to the charges. Prosecuting counsel, J.A. Bwala, thereafter, urged the court to fix a date for the commencement of their trial. Counsel to the first, fourth and fifth defendants, O. Odumosun, made an oral application for their bail, and adopted his seven-paragraph affidavit to back his application. Counsel to the second and third defendants aligned themselves to his submission.
Count one of the charges reads: “That you, Abimbola Abioye Alamu, whilst being the program officer at the Department of Health Planning, Research and Statistics, Federal ministry of Health, Mrs Adebayo Wuraola Adejoke, whilst being monitoring and evaluation Officer at the Department of Health Planning, Research and Statistics, Federal Ministry of Health, Dr. Azeez Aderemi Najim, whilst being project coordinator, at the Department of Health Planning, Research and Statistics Federal Ministry of Health, Zubairu Kindi Ibrahim, whilst being Assistant project Accountant at the Department of Health Planning, Research and Statistics, Federal Ministry of Health, Faturoti Oladiti Jacob, whilst being training officer at the Department of Health Planning, Research and Statistics, Federal Ministry of Health, sometime between 2010 and 2014 in Abuja, within the jurisdiction of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, did conspire amongst ourselves to do an illegal act to wit: convert to yourselves the aggregate sum of N28,802,483.80 (Twenty Eight Million, Eight Hundred and Two Thousand, Four Hundred and Eighty Three Naira, Eighty Kobo) property of ‘The Global Fund’ for the purpose of the implementation of its health improvement program in Nigeria and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 97 of the Penal Code Act, Cap. 532 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria (Abuja) 1990”.
The Court thereafter admitted them to bail in the sum of N1million each and one surety each in like sum, who must be level 12 above and must be resident in Abuja. They were further ordered to submit their international passports to the Court. The case has been adjourned to October 11, 17, 23 and 24, 2018, for “commencement of trial.”
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