The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission on Monday arraigned the quartet of Joseph Sule Emoabino, David Eson Igbinoba, Agbator Gaskin Efe and Dr. Simon Imuekeme before Justice Esther Edigin of the Edo State High Court on an 8-count charge that borders on diversion of the sum of N113 million allocated for a particular project to another project contrary to section 22(5) of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act 2000 and engaging in criminal conspiracy to commit an offence contrary to section (26) (1) (c) of the same Act.”
The quartet who were chairman, secretary, director of Finance and Accounts of the State Universal Basic Education Board and Secretary to Edo State Government respectively are alleged to have fraudulently diverted the said sum to a project not covered by the intervention funds allocated by the State Universal Basic Education Commission.
One of the charges reads, “that you Joseph Sule Emoabino, David Eson Igbinoba, Aghator Gaskin Efe and Dr. Simon Imuekeme being chairman, secretary, director of finance and accounts of State Universal Basic Education Board, Edo State and secretary to government of Edo State respectively, on or about the 5th of June, 2012 in Benin within the jurisdiction of Edo State High Court, spent the sum of N16,853,242.58 (Sixteen Million, Eight Hundred and Fifty Three Thousand, Two Hundred and Forty Two Naira, Fifty Eight Kobo) for construction of perimeter wall fence in Ivbiore Primary School Ugbor, a project not covered by the intervention funds allocated by the State Universal Basic Education Commission/state government and thereby committed an offence.”
When the charges were read to the accused persons, they all pleaded not guilty.
In view of the plea of the accused persons, counsel to EFCC, Aso Larry Peters asked the court to fix a date for trial. However, counsel to the 1st and 4th accused persons, H. I. O Oshomah and O. A. Omonuwa (SAN) told the court that they had filed applications for bail for their clients.
Attempt by counsel to the 4th accused to move for bail on behalf of his client was rejected by the judge who said she wanted to take all the applications together. Also prayers by all the defence counsel to allow the accused persons to continue on the administrative bail granted them by EFCC was opposed by EFCC counsel on the grounds that the bail granted to the accused persons by the Commission elapsed the moment they appeared before the court.
Justice Edigin ordered the accused persons to be remanded in prison custody while adjourning the matter to Friday March 14 for hearing on the bail application.