Alleged N3 billion fraud… Apprehension in civil service over Oyo-Ita’s investigation

Head, Civil Service of the Federation, Mrs. Winifred Oyo-Ita
Head, Civil Service of the Federation, Mrs. Winifred Oyo-Ita

There is apprehension in the Federal Civil Service following the investigation of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation (HoCSF), Mrs. Winifred Oyo-Ita, by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Daily Trust reports.

Oyo-Ita is being investigated by the anti-graft commission over alleged N3bn contract scam, money laundering and stealing of government funds.

“The Head of Service was invited by the EFCC on Friday and held overnight until Saturday when she was released. Her phone, which is said to be key in the ongoing investigation, was however seized and is still with the investigators,” a source familiar with the matter told Daily Trust.

She has been in hospital since her release.

An EFCC source told Daily Trust that the HoS had been on the radar of the anti-graft agency, adding that her aides and associates are also being monitored to unravel the full extent of the scam, as some of the contractors who paid money to her are suspected to be proxy companies linked to her.

Already, the sum of N600m was found in the account of one of her aides and he could not defend it.

The EFCC has blocked the account and has initiated the process of obtaining an interim forfeiture clause to seize the cash, it was learnt.

It was further gathered that the EFCC may prepare charges bordering on official misconduct and corruption against her once she is suspended from office. The anti-graft agency will also demand an interim forfeiture of the funds while the account has been blocked.

When contacted yesterday, EFCC spokesman, Tony Orilade said, “At the point of investigation of any corruption case, it is not made a media issue. It is only when the investigation is concluded and charges are prepared and filed in court; that is when it becomes a public issue.”

“At the point of the investigation, it is a tradition that we don’t go to the media. To talk to you specifically on the issue you have raised? I don’t have a comment,” Orilade said.

However, the Director, Communications, Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation (OHoSCF), Mrs Wunmi Ogunmosunle, told Daily Trust that the HoS honoured the invitation of the acting EFCC Chairman, Ibrahim Magu and answered some questions.

“It is not true that she was detained or hospitalised on account of the EFCC invitation. She was on official leave on account of ill health,” Mrs Ogunmosunle and decline further comment.

Daily Trust further learnt from other sources in OHoCSF that the HoS got wind of the plan to invite her by the EFCC and chose to go on the sick leave.

“She was due to resume on Monday from her sick leave. The EFCC went to the villa to seek permission of the Presidency on the HoS case. It was then that madam (HoS) got wind of the plan to arrest or invite her for questioning. I believe she asked for the leave because of that,” he said.

He also admitted that the HoS was in the hospital even before the EFCC invitation and that it was wrong to link her hospital visit to the EFCC invitation.

Another official said that the reported N600m traced to an official has nothing to do with HoS.

According to him, the official was not in the OHoSCF but in the pension office and that it was discovered that the money was meant for beneficiaries of dead civil servants.

He wondered why the official kept the money in his account.

Another source close to the HoS said the same pension fraud that made Mrs. Oyo-Ita to cross path with some politicians and top government officials is now being used to blackmail her.

Daily Trust recalled that Mrs. Oyo-Ita recently denied reports that N16bn meant for Civil Servants Group Life Insurance Scheme (GLIS) was stolen in her office.

Oyo-Ita while commenting on a report accusing her and others of stealing N16bn meant for GLIS, said that the allegation was false and should be disregarded.

More revelations likely – Ex perm secs

Meanwhile, two former federal permanent secretaries told the Daily Trust yesterday that the investigation of the Head of Service (HoS) had unsettled forces in many ministries.

The ex- permanent secretaries, who spoke in confidence, said there was tension in many ministries because if the probe persisted, many top officials including permanent secretaries may be affected.

One of them said, “You know the Head of Service is responsible for posting of directors and so on. So if truly huge monies were found in accounts linked to her, she must have been aided by those she also assisted to get to position of authority.”

He said huge monies could not just find their way to certain accounts, saying they must have come through certain ways including contracts and kickbacks.

According to him, appointment and posting of permanent secretaries had been compromised, and the resultant effect was lack of professionalism occasioned by shoddy deals.

“Those permanent secretaries who climbed the top always service the ego of those who posted them to juicy ministries,” he said.

“But the fact is that now that the anti-graft agency has beamed its searchlight on the office of the HoS, there is apprehension in many places because it means accounts of many permanent secretaries and directors would have been investigated. You will hear a lot of revelations in the coming days,” he said.

The second former permanent secretary said, “The truth is that there are issues relating to recruitment, promotion and posting processes in the civil service especially from the directorate level.

“The so-called lobbying system has rubbished the civil service. People pay huge monies to become permanent secretaries. They also pay a lot of money to be posted to what they called ‘juicy ministries’ and above all, when they get there, they do a lot of bad things to amass wealth, protect the seat and service those who worked the appointment for them,” he said.

On the way to revamp the civil service, he said, “appointment and promotion should be based on merit and competence. Any permanent secretary who knows he was appointed based on his pedigree will protect his hard earned reputation; he will not compromise and will also not be afraid of anybody.”

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