Northern Nigerian Breaking News

How FIRS staff diverted public funds to her private school – Witness

A prosecution witness, on Monday, told the Federal High Court in Abuja how the Head of Stakeholders Unit of the Federal Inland Revenue Services (FIRS) Emmanuella Ita, allegedly diverted large sums of money belonging to the FIRS unit to her private school, Surestart School Ltd.

A press statement by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) spokesperson, Dele Oyewale, on Monday, said Ms Ita ran Surestart School Ltd while serving as the Head of Stakeholders Unit of the FIRS.

Read Also: Tinubu appoints new Almajiri Education Commission leadership team, reassigns Ja’afar Isa

Testifying as the sixth prosecution witness (PW6) on Monday, Ijeoma Maltida, an EFCC investigator, told the court that the funds allegedly diverted by Ms Ita were meant for certain projects to be executed by her unit at the FIRS.

The witness, who was being cross-examined by defence lawyer, Paul Erokoro, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), said the funds meant for the projects were traced into her account with the payment narration.

elsamad new

She told the trial judge, Folashade Ogunbanjo-Giwa, that investigations showed that the same funds were sent directly into the account of the second defendant, Surestart School Ltd.

“When she came to our office, we took her statement, we were cordial with her, and she was treated very well with utmost respect.

“While she was with us for reconciliation, she started bringing documents, and she also opted to pay back for some reconciliation she could not account for. She said in her statement that she will pay back the money. I don’t know where she got the money from, and so far, she has refunded about N17million, though she told us that she benefited about N5million from the program,” the statement quoted the witness as saying.

The witness added: “I don’t know the standard practice of sourcing for funds before asking for reimbursement, and it is not within the scope of our investigation. All I know is that she undertook some of the stakeholders’ events, and we saw that those monies that came from FIRS went directly into the account of the second defendant, and the description was that the assignment was not done.”

Ms Maltida said the defendant told her team that the vendors that were supposed to do the events had given their evidence in court and testified that the receipts presented by the defendant did not come from them.

“She further claimed that those receipts were given to her by one Daniel, who was a staff of FIRS,” the witness said.

Read Also: At last, EFCC recovers 324 houses for Kano pensioners

Testifying further, she said, “we were told he was late and we demanded for the death certificate which was given to us. We requested for his account details and we discovered he was also a beneficiary. We wrote to FIRS, UBA, System Spec, and invited everyone involved in this matter and everything we have here are as a result of our investigations.”

After the cross-examination, Ms Ogunbanjo-Giwa, adjourned the matter till 20 and 21 March for continuation of trial.

The EFCC is prosecuting Ms Ita and Surestart School Limited on 25 counts of criminal misappropriation, diversion, criminal breach of trust and money laundering to the tune of N2 billion.


Comments are closed.