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‘N69bn fraud’: Court remands Olejeme, ex-NSITF boss, in EFCC custody

Author:
Bolanle Olabimtan

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has arraigned Ngozi Olejeme, former chairperson of the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF), before a federal capital territory (FCT) high court in Jabi.

She was arraigned on a nine-count charge bordering on alleged diversion of public funds and money laundering worth about N69 billion before Maryam Hassan Aliyu, the presiding judge.

Upon arraignment, she pleaded not guilty.

Paul Erokoro, Olejeme’s lawyer, moved an application for her bail.

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He asked the court to grant bail to his client on self recognisance or on liberal terms.

“The applicant has been diabetic and hypertensive for 30 years. She has had four major surgeries in the United States of America and South Africa,” he said.

“Four months ago, the applicant suffered a heart failure and last month, she caught COVID-19 and she is still in the recovery process. She will have follow-up surgery, one of which is scheduled to hold next month in South Africa.”

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Erokoro also dismissed allegations that the applicant breached her administrative bail and escaped from the country.

“She returned to Nigeria voluntarily when she was asked to do so, due to the charges by the complainant. She regularly visited the complainant’s offices and has reported regularly. In addition, she has never missed an appointment,” Olejeme’s lawyer said.

Although Steve Odiase, prosecuting counsel, did not oppose the application, he insisted that the ex-NSITF chair must be granted conditional bail, requiring that she presents a surety.

In a short ruling, the judge ordered that the defendant be kept in the custody of the EFCC pending ruling on the bail application.

The matter was adjourned till October 22.

In July 2020, a federal high court sitting in Abuja ordered the interim forfeiture of 48 properties allegedly owned by Olejeme.

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