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Court Orders Arrests of REA Staffs Over Non AppearanceGrants Bail to one in the sum of N50m

The Federal High Court in Abuja today ordered the arrest of 3 staff of the Rural Electrification Agency, REA for failing to appear at their arraignments over multiple charges of frauds and diversions of public funds.

The staff Emmanuel Pada Titus, Henrietta Onormen Okojie, and Umar Musa Karaye respectively had earlier been granted administrative bails by the Independent and Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission, ICPC, over alleged fraud, criminal conspiracy and diversion of public funds amounting to the sum of one billion eight hundred and thirty-five million naira only (N1.835m) only negating due process.

Another staff Usman Ahmed Kwakwa was offered administrative Bail in the sum of Fifty Million Naira Only (N50m), with One Surety in like sum with 3 years of tax clearance, a landed property in the FCT, original documents, two recent passport photographers of both the Respondent and his Surety

Earlier the charge, presented by Dr Osuoben Ekoi Akpanimisingha Assistant Chief Legal Officer of the ICPC while reading their charges had stated that Emmanuel Pada Titus was being arraigned for the alleged diversion of the sum of two hundred and sixty 1 million ( N261m).

He also informed that Henrietta Onormen Okojie was being arraigned for the diversion of the sum of three hundred and forty-two million naira only (N342m), while Umar Musa Karaye was being arraigned for the diversion of one hundred and sixty-five million naira only (N165m).

The Complainant on behalf of the federal government, Dr Okojie had sought the permission of the court to have the trio arrested, for deliberately failing to appear, despite having full details of their arraignments by the Commission.

Quoting section 114 and section 184 of the Criminal and Justice Act respectively, the complainant informed that he had personally served the defendants the notices of arraignment on May 29th, 2024, with the details of appearances clearly stated, but the defendants on their own notices had failed to appear for their arraignments.

Recall that investigations by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission, ICPC, as well as the Accounts Committee of the House of Representatives, had showed outflows of payments amounting to One Billion Eight Hundred and Thirty-Five Million (N1.835b).

The alleged disbursements were paid in tranches into 6 personal accounts of some senior officials of the agency.

In the charge sheets co-signed by Henry O Empire, Director of Legal Services and Dr Osuoben Ekoi Akponimisinghi, Assistant Legal Officer of the ICPC it stated that a total of one billion eight hundred and thirty-five million naira only,(N1.835b) were paid by Abubakar Abdullahi Sambo in tranches to the defendants.

The Judge had adjourned the re-arraignment of Emmanuel Pada Titus, Henrietta Onormen Okojie, and Umar Musa Karaye to June 13th 2024 and that of Usman Ahmed Kwakwa to June 14th 2024 respectively.

Additionally, it is to be recalled that in March 2024, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu suspended Ahmad Salihijo Ahmad, managing director and chief executive of the Rural Electrification Agency (REA) indefinitely. The suspension followed an investigation into the financial activities of the Rural Electrification Agency and the diversion of N1.2 billion into personal accounts.

However, the former MD was not mentioned in the charges.

Tinubu also approved the indefinite suspension of Olaniyi Netufo, executive director, of corporate services, Barka Sajou, executive director, of technical services and Sa’adatu Balgore, executive director, of rural electrification fund (REF).

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