- Category: Opinions/Interviews
- Published on Wednesday, 18 April 2012 07:35
- Written by Admin
- Hits: 600
Banks colluded with civil servants to siphon billions of pension fund cash, Mrs Farida Waziri told senators yesterday.
She also told the panel that she travelled out of the country immediately after her removal because she got death threats.
Mrs Waziri described the fraud perpetrated in pension fund offices as “monumental” and “unbelievable”.
She said: “The fraud that was discovered was monumental and shocking because I could not believe that civil servants could do this to themselves.
“Those who were behind this monumental fraud should have known that one day they too will become pensioners.
“The fraud was a big shock to me. I felt that we should not be doing this to ourselves. We investigated and made serious discoveries.
“There was this pretty lady; the money found in her account was mind boggling.
“I remember I told her ‘you are a mother, why are you doing this? You have children; why do you engage in this?’
“We discovered that many ghost names, including dead persons, were being paid. There were no addresses, no local government areas, but money was being paid to dead persons.
“It was really bad that in sharing the money, one of the drivers got angry and told us what happened.
“We discovered filling stations, choice property. Everyday, money was recovered. “In some cases, those involved simply put money in an account and forgot it there.”
According to her, if banks did not collude with those in charge of pension funds, there was no way “unbelievable fraud would have been possible”.
The banks, she said, look for money at all costs, not minding the source of such money.
Mrs Waziri said some banks were in the habit of acting as informants to the pension funds fraud perpetrators.
“We discovered that when EFCC officials planned to visit a bank, officials of the bank would inform those who kept pension funds in their banks that EFCC officials were around and ask them to remove the money,” she said.
Mrs Waziri said there was a case of N40 billion that was taken from one of the banks on the pretext that the money was to be used to buy diesel.
She noted that the N40 billion was granted without collateral “and when the person sold the diesel, he went to Dubai to buy choice property”.
On the allegation that she collected money to travel to Atlanta, Georgia, United States for biometric data capturing, she denied ever travelling to Atlanta for such purpose.
Mrs Waziri said: “It is an insult for anybody to insinuate that I travelled for biometric data capturing. Before I travelled the President would know, the Chief of Staff would know, the Inspector General of Police would know.”
She promised to furnish the committee with the total pension funds recovered while she was in office.
Mrs Waziri also denied allegation of selective treatment of those accused of looting pension funds. She said 32 suspects were charged to court.
The committee mandated the EFCC to investigate how its employee, Edi Abdullahi’s account was credited with N86 million “estacode” in one day.
The committee described Abdullahi as a State Security Service (SSS) personnel attached to the EFCC.
The committee also said it discovered that the Abdulrasheed Maina-led Pension Reform Task Team opened 72 accounts in banks.
It asked the EFCC to investigate the accounts and report back to it within one week.
Police Pension Director Mr. Toyin Ishola told the committee that Tony Ibi returned N7.4 million paid into his account as estacode supposedly for EFCC chairman Ibrahim Lamorde.
Christian Madubuike, an employee of the Police Pension Office, who appeared before the committee, admitted that his account was credited with over N5 million.
Madubuike also admitted that he withdrew the money and handed it over to A. Yusuf, an Assistant Director (Account) in the Police Pension Office.
He claimed that the monies were credited to his account without his knowledge.
The committee to mandated the police to investigate allegation that some high profile people including Lamorde’s names were used to siphon billions of naira as estacode, following Ishola’s assertion that EFCC operatives are on Maina’s pay roll.
The mandate to the police followed the protest by Ishola and some others that since the EFCC was accused of complicity in the pension funds scam, it should not be allowed to handle the investigation.
Ishola also made other unprintable allegations against Maina, which the committee admitted as exhibit.
But Lamorde has consistently said that he has nothing to do with the alleged estacode. He told the committee that he did not travel abroad at any time for any biometric capturing.
Mrs. Waziri, who has been oversesas since she left office, said the death threats she got immediately after her removal caused her failure to honour the earlier invitations.
According to her, the hasty withdrawal of the security operatives attached to her on the orders of former Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Mr. Hafiz Ringim did not help matters.
The death threats, she said, made her to “hurriedly” leave the country to avoid possible harm.
She said: “When I was removed from office I had threats, several threats. I wrote to the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) and the Inspector-General of Police and copied other security agencies.
“The former Inspector-General of Police wrote that my security should be withdrawn. He is my friend but my security was withdrawn on his order.
“When my security was withdrawn, my husband felt that I should leave the country. So, I hurriedly left the country.”
Mrs. Waziri did not, however, disclose the authors of the death threats and whether security agencies responded to her petitions.
Though the Senators did not comment on the development, some of those who heard the former anti-graft chair described the allegations as “serious”.