The Federal Government on Monday arraigned four civil servants and a former banker on charges of perpetrating a fraud involving over N140m through the manipulation of the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System to input details of ghost workers in 2017.
The five defendants were arraigned on 11 counts of cybercrime and advance fee fraud before Justice Ahmed Mohammed of the Federal High Court in Abuja.
They are Anthony Ogar, Olarenwaju Ladipo, Samuel Enwerem, Joshua Omachonu, and Joy Wright, who all pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Ogar was said to be of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Wright, the IPPS Desk Officer in the ministry, the duo of Ladipo and Omachonu, were said to be of the Nigeria Space Research and Development Agency, and Enwerem, an ex-banker, when the alleged fraud was said to have been perpetrated in 2017.
The Federal Government, through the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation, alleged in the charges filed on August 6, 2020, that “with the intent to defraud” the defendants conspired and did obtain by false pretence from the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System of the Federal Government of Nigeria the sum of N140,000,000 using several fictitious salary accounts of employees of the Federal Government of Nigeria.
The offences of conspiracy and the actual fraud were said to be contrary to Section 8(a), and 1(c), respectively, of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act CAP A6 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004, both of which were said to be punishable under Section 1(3) of the same Act.
In one of the counts Ogar, Ladipo and Wright were specifically accused of conspiracy and “unlawfully inputting, migrating and reactivating accounts of fictitious employees of the Federal Government of Nigeria in the said IPPIS with the intention that such fictitious employees will be considered as genuine.”
After the defendants pleaded not guilty to the charges, the defence lawyers, Mr E.I.B. Odo, for the 1st defendant, J.D. Musa for the 2nd and 5th defendants, Dickson Omahi for the 3rd and D. Akatugba for the 4th defendant, informed the judge that they had filed separate bail applications for their clients.
Credit: Ade Adesomoju, Abuja for Punch.